The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night and are probably better off for the loss. The game was your traditional close and hard fought contest between these two teams. For the last six seasons, these teams have played games with a point differential average of under 6. To top it off, this game (believe it or not) had playoff implications for both squads. And, in a game that was so badly needed by the Steelers to continue the win streak and a late playoff push, the team came up short. Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers Brass should be thankful for that because of what transpired during the game that has Mike Tomlin and the Steelers in quite a bit of hot water.
The game against the Ravens is quite the looking glass for this team of how their entire season has played out thus far – a terrible first half, a resurging second half, only to fall short when they really needed a big time play. The season has been nothing but disappointing filled with unreached expectations, injuries, and now questionable sportsmanship – aka cheating. Through the national lens, the Steelers were a team without identity, irrelevant to then becoming relevant, to now being thrust into the spotlight as potential cheaters. Mike Tomlin’s presence on the field of play during Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return may not have had the intent of trying to slow/interfere with Jones. Tomlin honestly could have lost his location on the sidelines and drifted onto the field – although I would love to see game footage of where he was from the start of the kickoff. But, as we have all learned – in the NFL intent nor even hard evidence matters when it comes to the long and overreaching arm of the Commish.
Multiple media insiders have confirmed that the Steelers are facing up a six figure fine for Tomlin’s actions, and CBS’s Jason La Canfora says he has inside sources that believe the NFL may even penalize the team a late draft pick for the action. You may remember that Jets special teams coach Sal Alosi brought a $100,000 fine upon his team for having team members hug the sidelines on kick and punt returns. Tomlin and the Steelers should expect just a stiff a fine, but I don’t believe that the NFL will bring the hammer down any harder than that. They certainly won’t take a draft pick away from the team. Why? Because the Steelers ultimately lost that evening.
Seems a bit of a reach on my part to justify a very heavy penalty such as a draft pick hinge on whether the Steelers won or lost that night. But, you have to think of how much more of a big deal this could have become were the Steelers to win on Thursday night. With a win, this series of events would have been nonstop talk all week long. Instead it’s been the talk for the last few days and is slowly disappearing. It would have put the NFL in a very precarious situation and force them to take action to the tune of somewhere between Alosi and Spygate. It would have been quite the blemish for Tomlin (aside from this crap-tacular season) and a PR nightmare for the Steelers and NFL. Instead the ‘offense’ is partially being swept under the rug and is becoming a huge joke as Mike Tomlin memes sweep across the net. Tomlin is made to look the buffoon, and that sly grin of his moments after the incident is only seen as a ‘Gee, did I just really do that?’ kind of quip. Instead of a cheater, Tomlin is now just the laughing stock of coaches at best – unless you ask Baltimore fans.
The off-season, future draft, and any intentions of keeping Mike Tomlin around improved when ‘Manny’ Sanders dropped the game tying two-point conversion in the final moments of the game. Anything more than losing to the Ravens and Mike Tomlin and the Steelers would have experienced their own kind of never before experienced hell. Don’t think that’s right? Well, just ask yourself if John Harbaugh was the one to interfere and the Raven still won.
In a strange way, thank goodness the Steelers lost on Thursday night. Intentional or not, it was stupid. If it was intentional, it’s shameful and they are lucky they won’t get the book thrown at them.
It’s a different kind of Thanksgiving for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.