Jacoby Jones on Tomlin: 'Is he gonna move?'
John Harbaugh wondered whether Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was credited with a tackle.
Joe Flacco said Tomlin used Flacco’s Super Bowl move, the one in which Flacco suggested tackling a kick returner from the sideline.
Tomlin insists he simply lost a sense of where he was.
Indeed, after the Ravens’ stirring 22-20 win over the Steelers on Thanksgiving night, Tomlin’s role on Jacoby Jones’ 73-yard kick return was still a hot topic.
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Had the Steelers come back and won, the play would have been enormously controversial. Instead, the Ravens held on to win, and ‘Tomlin-gate’ served only to enrage Ravens fans and add even more juice to the NFL’s best rivalry.
After the Steelers’ first touchdown, Jones took the ensuing kickoff and darted up the left sideline. He appeared to have a clear line to the end zone, but Tomlin was standing near the field at about the Steelers 40-yard line. His back was to Jones, but he was in the standing in the white sideline border, which is not allowed, and replays showed that his right foot was clearly in the field of play.
As Jones approached Tomlin, Tomlin made a quick step to his left to avoid Jones, and Jones slowed and veered slightly to his right. He was caught from behind by Cortez Allen.
The return went for 73 yards, but the Ravens were held to a field goal on that drive.
Jones said that as he raced up the sideline, he saw Tomlin ahead.
“I’m looking at him the whole time,” Jones said. “I’m like, ‘Does he know he’s on the field? I’m running, and I’m looking at him, and as I get close I’m like, “Is he going to move?”
Tomlin insisted that he always watches returns on the stadium video board because “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.”
When asked whether he interfered, Tomlin simply said, “No.”
Jones, though, said he had to weave to get out of the way and that “it broke my stride a little bit.”
The sideline stripe is supposedly off-limits, but coaches and players encroach on it routinely. Last week, the Jets were called for a penalty when one of their coaches made contact with an official who was running along that sideline boundary line.
Tomlin was not assessed a penalty.
Tomlin admitted he’s on the stripe “quite often, like everybody else in the National Football League. I was wrong. I accept responsibility for it.”
Flacco said that the play reminded him of the Super Bowl, when he suggested along the sideline that if the 49ers had a long return on the final free kick, someone on the bench should tackle him.
“I took some flack for joking around in the Super Bowl and saying that maybe you should just run onto the field and tackle somebody if this guys breaks it. That’s exactly what he just did.
“He was looking at the big screen the whole entire time. He knew where he was, and he knew where Jacoby was. He pulled my move.”