Thursday night’s game between the Steelers and the Ravens was supposed to provide some answers in the AFC North. But after the game and well into Friday, one question dominated the talk in NFL circles.
Did he do it on purpose?
The "he" is Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. And the "it," as you have likely seen by now, was Tomlin standing with a foot on the field as the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones sprinted down the sideline on a kickoff return, only to jump out of the way at the last second, but after Jones appeared to veer inside to perhaps avoid Tomlin and perhaps lose a TD on the return. That move, combined with replays showing Tomlin appearing to peek over his shoulder and subsequently smiling after the play, led many to believe the Super Bowl-winning coach knew exactly what he was doing.
And after the game, the comments — and the tweets — kept the controversy buzzing.
First, here is the play again:
On Friday morning, FOX NFL Insider Mike Garafolo confirmed the NFL is reviewing Tomlin’s antics, and will make a ruling.
Expect action on this next week. RT @JasonLaCanfora: NFL is, obviously, reviewing Mike Tomlin's sideline antics from last night.
"I was like, ‘Oh my God, yeah.’ That could easily happen to any of us," NESN quoted Belichick as saying. "It’s a good lesson, I have to be careful."
Coach Hoodie then said he’s actually paid for standing so close to the action.
"Yeah, I’ve been blown up a few times," Belichick told NESN. "There’s one play in particular where I was kind of watching the pass rush of the front and the ball was thrown. I didn’t really follow the ball that quickly and all the sudden the guy caught it and was right on top of me and [I] ended up under the Gatorade bench. Obviously if you’re watching the ball, it shouldn’t be that big of a problem. But if youâre trying to watch something else . . . Obviously we have to give the officials and the players room to play. Sometimes that just happens where you get guys caught up a little bit on the sideline."
But many people weren’t buying it. And not surprisingly, the biggest cries of foul came from the other sideline.
After the game, Ravens QB Joe Flacco said Tomlin did it on purpose – and that the coach owed Flacco a hat-tip.
"I took some flak I think for kind of joking around in the Super Bowl and saying that maybe you should run on the field and tackle somebody if this guy breaks it," Flacco told the media in Baltimore, referring to the final play in last season’s Super Bowl, when the 49ers had one final shot at the end zone on a free kick return, but Ted Ginn Jr. was ultimately tackled at midfield to secure the Ravens’ 34-31 win. "I kind of took flak for that. That’s exactly what he just did. He was looking at the big screen the whole entire time. He knew where he was. He knew where Jacoby was. He did. He pulled my move. He did what I thought we should do."
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith did not voice Flacco’s sentiments — he did even better. He posted this to Instagram: