Mike Tomlin could be facing a huge fine and even a suspension for stepping onto the field in the path of Baltimore Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones, but at least his players still have his back.
On Monday, safety Ryan Clark defended Tomlin, saying the Steelers coach didn’t mean to step on the field and cause Jones to change course. Clark said it was just a case of Tomlin losing his orientation while watching the play on the jumbotron.
“No intent at all,” Clark said following the Steelers’ first practice of the week. “If he had tripped him or tackled him it would have been a different story but he didn’t. When he noticed he was in the way he dived away.”
New video from KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh is casting doubt on Tomlin’s claim that he lost his place on the field. The video shows Tomlin moving to the sidelines to step on the field as Jones is racing down the sidelines. He jumps out of the way just before Jones passes.
LaMarr Woodley, an outside linebacker for the Steelers, also defended his coach, saying that he didn’t intentionally interfere on the third-quarter return. The Ravens ended up settling for a field goal on the possession, upping their lead to 16-7.
Clark said he doesn’t see the big deal over the play.
“If he sticks his foot out and trips him then that’s a different story. He was as surprised as anybody that it was right there,” Clark said. “It’s an unfortunate situation. More unfortunate that we have to talk about it but it’s over now. The NFL will do what they have to do. There will be no tapes to burn so it should be a speedy process.”
The NFL has not yet announced what punishment Mike Tomlin could face.