The biggest takeaway from the Baltimore Ravens 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was Jacoby Jones’ unlikely defender during his 3rd quarter kickoff return.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin appeared to be on the field during Jones’ 73-yard kickoff return. Jones weaved downfield, untouched by the Steelers.
But Jones was slowed down around the Steelers’ 40 yard-line, eventually being brought down by Cortez Allen.
It is uncharacteristic for Jones to get caught after breaking away from the pack on a kickoff. So, could Tomlin have interfered with the seventh-year veteran?
According to Jones, he did interfere, but it should not have affected the run.
“I promise you, I was looking at [Tomlin] the whole time,” Jones told reporters after the game. “I’m like, ‘Does he know he’s on the field?’ I’m running, I’m looking at him, and as I get close I’m like, ‘Is he going to move?’ I just weaved to get out of the way. It broke my stride a little bit.”
Now for Tomlin’s side of the story.
“I always watch the returns on the jumbotron,” Tomlin said. “It provides a better perspective for me. I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play.”
Whether Tomlin’s actions were intentional or not, he is required to be behind the white stripe on the sideline. Not only was he on the white stripe, but he was on the field. As for preferring to watch the screen, M&T Bank Stadium has two jumbotron screens located behind each end zone. It would make more sense for the coach to watch the screen behind the play rather than having his back to the game.
But regardless of what happened, the Ravens took the high road and joked about the incident.
“I was wondering, did they credit him with a tackle on that?” Head coach John Harbaugh asked. “Hey, that stuff happens. It happens. I really don’t have anything to say about it other than stuff like that happens.”
The National Football League is currently investigating Tomlin’s sideline play. The coach could face disciplinary action for his possible interference.