Through the course of the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Thanksgiving night loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Mike Tomlin found himself in quite a pickle. During a Jacoby Jones kick return Tomlin found himself nearly interfering with the return causing Jones to have to veer from the sideline where he was caught from behind by Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen.
The play got plenty of attention by the NBC crew during the game, and when M&T Bank Stadium repeatedly showed the play it caused Tomlin to smirk which ignited a multitude of Raven fans to spew hatred.
To me, this is a non-issue. Ravens fans are clamoring for Tomlin to be fined, suspended and even fired for this potential interference from the sideline. What they are forgetting is that in the grand scheme of things the Ravens won the game. Would this be a story if the Steelers would have completed the comeback and won the game? Maybe.
Here is the main issue. The entire argument is based on “what ifs”.
What if Jones would have scored?
What if Tomlin didn’t stand on the field?
What if that play determined the outcome of the game?
All of these arguments are moot based on the fact that although Jones didn’t score, Tomlin was standing on the field and the play did not determine the outcome of the game. The Baltimore Ravens find themselves in the driver’s seat in terms of an AFC playoff spot as well as making their arch rival Steelers nearly out of the playoff picture all together.
Apparently, that isn’t enough for some fans.
The fact of the matter is simple: Not only did this play not affect the outcome of the game, but these tactics are not new to the NFL and not even to the Steelers.
If you recall, a younger Bill Cowher stood on the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars while he watched an opposing player running along the Steelers’ sideline for a touchdown when Cowher stepped onto the field and acted as if he was going to make the tackle himself.
That got publicity but nothing to the magnitude of the Tomlin fiasco. Reportedly the NFL front office is sticking their nose into this situation, and that is no surprise. Tomlin might be fined for the strange incident on Thursday night, but to me this entire story is a non-issue based on the simple fact that it did not alter the outcome of the game.
Fans can play the what if game all they want, but unless it changes the outcome of the game — which it didn’t — then it’s time to move on.
Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz