BALTIMORE -Did Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin purposely derail a potential touchdownkickoff return by Baltimore's Jacoby Jones?
Short answer: Yeah, it sure looks like it.
Longer explanation: Super Bowl hero Jones looked like he was set to break open Baltimore's Thanksgiving night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Pittsburgh was kicking off after a touchdown cut the Ravens' lead to 13-7. Jones took the ball just inside the end zone, quickly broke free of defenders, sprinted down the Steelers sideline and appeared set for another kick return TD. But, just when it looked like Jones was gone, Pittsburgh corner Cortez Allen chased him down and tackled him at the 27-yard line.
When NBC looked back at the replays, there was an interesting footnote to the return. As Jones was streaking down the sideline, he swerved to avoid an unexpected roadblock: Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who was standing just inside the 40-yard line on the white part of the sideline where coaches and players are banned from standing.
On one camera angle, you can see Tomlin looking up toward the center of the field, where one of the Ravens' video boards would be, theoretically showing Jones' return.
Tomlin had his back to the play, but could be seen glancing behind him as Jones ran by. When looking back at the replay, it appeared Jones had to slightly alter his path toward the right. That motion is what caused Allen to catch him.
If officials had determined that Tomlin interfered with the play, they could have awarded a touchdown to the Ravens, according to the NBC booth of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. At the very least, a 15-yard penalty could have been awarded. There was no penalty, however, and the Ravens eventually settled for four fewer points than they would have scored with a Jones TD.
How did Tomlin react? Like a kid who reached into the cookie jar without anyone noticing.