When Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was explaining why he was standing with a foot on the field of play until just before Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones was on top of him during a long kick return on Thursday night, he said that he lost his placement on the field because he was watching the play on the Jumbotron.
Tomlin said it was something he does “quite often like everyone else in the National Football League.” Patriots coach Bill Belichick lent some support to Tomlin’s assertion on Friday when he recounted a story about being “blown up” while not paying attention to what’s happening on the field. Belichick, who has found other ways of making his presence felt on the sideline as well, said he wound up under the Gatorade table after a player ran into him and that it was easy to put himself in Tomlin’s shoes.
“Obviously we have to give the officials and the players room to play,” Belichick said in comments distributed by the team. “Sometimes that just happens where you get guys caught up a little bit on the sideline. But yeah, I saw the play last night. I was like, ‘Oh my God, yeah.’ That could easily happen to any of us. It’s a good lesson, I have to be careful.”
So do the officials. Whether Tomlin was engaging in gamesmanship or not , he was standing in a part of the field where he was not permitted to be while a play was going on and that should have been a penalty even if every other coach does it on every snap in every game. Referee Clete Blakeman’s crew decided to ignore that part of the rulebook with no explanation about why Tomlin wasn’t penalized for something that several other teams have been flagged for this season.