PITTSBURGH (AP) – The NFL is still deciding how to discipline Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin for his not-so-fancy footwork. New video, though, shows Tomlin inching closer to the field before Baltimore kickoff returner Jacoby Jones nearly collided with him in last Thursday’s 22-20 win by the Ravens.
KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh released video Monday indicating Tomlin took a sizable step toward the field as Jones broke into the open, and didn’t move until Jones was nearly on top of the coach. Tomlin actually put his right foot on green grass as part of a stutter step move out of harm’s way. It wasn’t early enough to stop Jones from moving to his right just before being tackled by Pittsburgh’s Cortez Allen after a 73-yard return.
Tomlin was not penalized, though he is facing disciplinary action. Tomlin said following the game he was watching the play unfold on one of the scoreboards and lost his “placement” on the field.
“I do it quite often, like everybody else in the National Football League,” Tomlin said. “I was wrong, I accept responsibility for it.”
Steelers safety Ryan Clark defended Tomlin, saying being on the field is common even though rules require players, coaches and support staff to stand behind a large white strip of grass that separates the field from the benches.
“I’m always on the field. I sit on the field, but I try to sit on it away from anything,” Clark said Monday.
The 12-year veteran said he stepped onto the field while Pittsburgh’s offense tried a potential tying 2-point conversion against the Ravens in the final minutes “so I could see.”
Clark added there was no malice in Tomlin’s actions.
“There was no intent at all,” Clark said. “When he noticed he was in the way, he got out of the way. If he tripped (Jones), tackled him, it’d be a different story.”
The NFL fined the New York Jets $100,000 in 2010 when cameras caught strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi tripping a Miami player on the sideline. Alosi was suspended by the Jets and eventually resigned after the season.
Jones said after the game that “if I was (Tomlin), I would do the same thing” and didn’t blame the coach for Jones’ inability to score. That doesn’t mean Jones is ruling out the idea Tomlin knew what he was doing.
“Before I got to him, he was halfway on the field,” Jones said. “He gave me a little juke, and I tried to juke him.”
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org