So what should have happened after Steelers coach Mike Tomlin entered the field of play during Jacoby Jones‘ long kickoff return and jumped out of the way at the last instant, forcing Jones inside and possibly keeping him from scoring a touchdown?
Per a league source with knowledge of the appropriate procedures, no coach or player may be in the white area during a play. Tomlin, who actually had a foot on the field, should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, especially since the field judge had to run around Tomlin while covering the play.
The source pointed out that, just last week, the Jets were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after the line judge ran into the coaches in the white sideline stripe.
If a player or coach on the sideline interferes with the play, a “palpably unfair act” occurs. The referee can do whatever the referee determines to be equitable, including awarding a touchdown.
And that’s not the end of it. The Steelers and/or Tomlin now face potential discipline, to be determined initially by the office of executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson.