Steelers were stunned by Brett Keisel’s sack celebration penalty


Steelers defensive lineman Brett Keisel thought he had ended the Bengals’ first series on Sunday with a third-down sack. And then a flag came down that left the Steelers stunned.

After Keisel sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on third down, he got up and did his signature sack celebration, in which he pretends to be shooting an arrow. One problem: Keisel put his knee on the ground while doing the celebration, and any player who goes to the ground as part of a celebration is supposed to get a 15-yard penalty. Sure enough, the officials threw the flag and the Bengals got 15 yards and a first down.

As shown by NFL Films on Inside the NFL this week, none of the Steelers saw that penalty coming. Keisel looked shocked, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was captured on film yelling at an official in disbelief, and Steelers running back Jonathan Dwyer said, “He does that every time he gets a sack.”

If Keisel does it every time, the NFL rules say he should be penalized every time. The NFL has had that rule for years, which is why Vikings defensive end Jared Allen stopped putting his knee on the ground during his signature “calf roping” celebration a couple of years ago.

But while the Steelers should have known the rule, the officials also could have handled it better: For some reason, the officials didn’t announce the penalty until both the Steelers’ defense and the Bengals’ offense had gone to the sidelines and the punt teams had taken the field. That led to a delay before the Bengals’ offense and Steelers’ defense re-took the field, and then there was another delay while the officials conferred about something before they finally put the ball in play again for the Bengals’ next snap. It’s unclear what caused the officials’ delay.

The only thing that is clear is that any Steelers who didn’t know before know now: Don’t go to the ground to celebrate.

96 responses to “Steelers were stunned by Brett Keisel’s sack celebration penalty

  1. I hate the Steelers, but seriously, come on…

    No Fun League. Let these guys celebrate a little bit. Extending a drive and possibly changing the game score/outcome because he went to a knee is ridiculous.

  2. He has been doing this for years. To throw a flag now is asinine.

    Pretty much sums up the Steelers’ year. Throw this year in the crapper and start over next year.

  3. OK…that was a bit stunning. However, for “stunning” nothing compares to Clay Matthews and his latest reinvented sack dance of 2 weeks ago. All he was missing the day he did his little move was a brass pole and a waist full of dollar bills.

  4. Sounds to me like they were afraid to make call then got the balls to do it. Hey a rule is a rule which steelers should have known. Over. Done. Move on . A slow thurs. reach for a story….yawn. Oh except for the bobble head bashes from ….you guess.

  5. I’m a fan and know that rule. How can these guys not know the rules, whether it be O.T. or celebration rules? That’s just unacceptable. One reason Tiger Woods was so dominate was he always knew every single rule (at least in golf 🙂 and used them to his advantage while ensuring he hurt his own chances by breaking a rule. Come on man…

  6. Don’t agree with this rule but Keisel should be getting that 15 yarder for taking part in such a dumb celebration to begin with.

    I mean, a bow and arrow? Seriously?

  7. You’ll never hear me complain about players getting flagged or fined for celebrations….seriously, players celebrate everything now. I’ve seen cornerbacks celebrate a tackle after a RB gets 15 yards and a first down.

  8. The classless Steelers should have known the rules. I guess soon you will hear Ben TakeTheFurBurger say he didn’t know it was illegal to sexually assault drunk fat white women in bathroom stalls.

    Eagles will win Super Bowl 48 in February 2014.

  9. How about stopping the dance nonsense all together. Enjoy the sack, jump up and down all you want but planned dances and the show off crap is really tired both for the offense and defense.

  10. Just more inconsistency by the refs enforced by the No Fun League. Someone pull up Jared Allens 11 sacks this year and I guarantee he puts his knee to the ground on over half of them, if not all of them.

  11. Nick Collins was penalized for going to his knees celebrating his pick-six when the Packers beat the Steelers in the Super Bowl 2 years ago. You’d think they would have known the rule from that, if nothing else.

  12. I’d like to see them end all celebrations. You have men being paid millions of dollars to do what they do, then when they do their jobs, they act like they just cured cancer. That being said, I agree that it seems like a dumb penalty.

  13. We the fans need to seriously consider boycotting the NFL. Between these lame penalties, the castration of defenses, fines, suspensions, and everything else that is making football no fun anymore, something needs to be done ASAP!

    Speaking for myself, after this season, I’ll be done watching football until things start to change. I hope you owners are listening. Say goodbye to my $5,000+ per year I spend on football. That hard earned money isn’t worth the product you’ve been giving me lately. This coming from a fan of a very successful team of late.

  14. Nobody gave the bengals a shot in this game but lets see what was accomplished in this game:The bengals won the game at Heinz field, made the playoffs,eliminated the steelers from the playoffs, ruined the anniversary of the immaculate reception(John madden agrees on this one)….ouch!

  15. What a stupid rule. You let these guys dance around like fools after a random tackle but a guy puts his knee on the ground and that’s a penalty. Give me a break Goodell, your ruining a great league

  16. I’ve seen numerous examples of players “going to the ground” during celebrations this year and this is the first time I’ve heard of that penalty being called during this season.

    Either they call it all the time and are consistent or eliminate the penalty.

  17. The Steelers are so accustomed to getting special treatment that they’re stunned when they’re told the rules apply to them just like everybody else.

  18. I would think there would be a difference between ‘going to the ground’ – laying down, rolling on the ground etc and your knee touching but, whatever. They suck this year anyway.

  19. It’s a dumb rule for sure. That said, it didn’t impact the game much.

    It didn’t result in any points, and while it gave the Bengals a chance to pin the Steelers inside the 20 with a good punt, it ended up being a touchback.

    Still… dumb rule.

  20. I don’t mind piling on the Steelers, but I’ll wait until this Sunday when the Browns hand them a big fat “L” and cement a losing season for the black and gold!

  21. I blame Tomlin, he’s lost the locker room and I don’t see him being in Pitt beyond next season.

  22. eaglesw002 is right nfl doesn’t let any of the players do any fun and are very strict nfl has to change or people will stop watching football

  23. Just shows you were the NFL is. With all the celebration, rain dances, ball dunks, and ball twirls you decide to throw a flag on this type play. Totally stupid. Has not one thing to do with a play of the game. The refs should be fined for even thinking it deserves a flag.

  24. They should prohibit the pointing to the sky as well. About as dumb as celebrations get. 1 yard run. *points to the sky*

  25. How about these idiot players just play the game and forget all this “acting”. This stuff grew old in the 1980’s. Now it’s really stale.

  26. I think the refs were just penalizing him for what everyone else is thinking… The beard is dumb, polamalus hair is dumb, terrible towels are really dumb and the steelers season is aaallllll over… Go Ravens!!!!

  27. I miss the days of celebrations. So many good ones that they cannot do anymore, and I still don’t get why. I get no props other than the ball, but come on. If a guy wants to pull a signature move and gets a flag, but another guy scores a TD and dunks it over the crossbar with no dirty laundry on the field… let it all go!

  28. Re: Tebow and other players to take a knee:

    There is an exception carved out in the penalty that allows players to take a knee in a religious manner. Kiesel should appeal, saying he is paying tribute to the Diana, Goddes of the Hunt.

  29. i just like how pathetic these jackalope athletes look like when they act like a buffoon and then a flag is thrown at them.

    kind of like benny hill sneaking into a woman’s changing room only to have a bucket of water come down on his head.

  30. 95% of celebrations, esp end zone celebrations, consist of a grown man making a fool out of himself. I wouldn’t care if celebrations were completely banned.

  31. I don’t understand how he can be penalized and Tebow isn’t when he goes down on one knee? It doesn’t make any sense to me. I hate the steelers and would normally applaud any flag they recieve, but this one is dumb Maybe they don’t consider Tebow celebrating since he is doing something religious?

    I for a fact know Von Miller did the Tebow earlier this year after a sack and didn’t get fined. The NFL is so inconsistent and ridiculous lately.

  32. Wait, the only reason they beat the Chiefs was an even more bogus set of penalties on Monday Night Football. Can’t have it both ways, Steeler fans. And please, don’t start bringing up Super Bowls won 35 years ago as a rebuttal.

  33. borisbulldog | Dec 27, 2012, 3:51 PM EST
    I don’t mind piling on the Steelers, but I’ll wait until this Sunday when the Browns hand them a big fat “L” and cement a losing season for the black and gold!

    So Boris being an expert on losing seasons what’s it like because its rare for us. Hey let’s trade secrets Ill tell you about winning and you ….fill in the blanks my man.

  34. The NFL continues to do everything it can do hurt themselves. Johnson’s non-catch, Keisel’s knee touched the ground on a celebration, tuck rule, fumbles (not called) not reviewable because coaches don’t have any time outs left, 15 yard penalty and no review if the coach throws a red flag on an automatic review….

    It’s like they are flaunting their monopoly and we will watch no matter what (which we will)

  35. To answer many of the posters above, I believe there is a difference between a celebration after a play and a touchdown. A touchdown allows you to go to one knee but a regular play does not.

    It is a dumb penalty but even dumber for the Steelers not to know that. Because of Rooney, they are so used to having the refs in their pockets that they stopped reading the rule book.

  36. Not saying it changed the outcome, but it sure changed field position dramatically, since the Bengals would have punted deep in their own territory, meanwhile they gained yards after being given the first down. That is a fact.

    I don’t understand what going to a knee means as far as whether a celebration is legal or not. It is just plain stupid that this became an issue, all because of a stupid rule. It’s not like Keisel got in someone’s face when he did it.

  37. bobzilla1001 says: Dec 27, 2012 4:11 PM

    Why is the “Lambeau Leap” legal?
    Just asking.
    That celebration was “grandfathered in” when the celebration rules were changed a couple of years ago. That point was brought up in last years NFCCG, Giants/49ers, when Vernon Davis used a camera stand as a “prop”.

    Additionally, to everyone asking about Tebow: He is going to a knee with religious intent, sort of the way Adrian Peterson goes to a knee and points to the sky after a TD. The NFL cannot penalize based on religion (that is, until they find a way they can fine a player for it too).

  38. “nxsteven says: Dec 27, 2012 3:40 PM

    Don’t agree with this rule but Keisel should be getting that 15 yarder for taking part in such a dumb celebration to begin with.

    I mean, a bow and arrow? Seriously?”

    Keisel is a bow hunter. So, yes, “seriously”.

  39. To everyone asking:

    Tebow doesn’t get flagged because (IIRC) he goes down to his knee on the sideline and not in the field of play. This is the same reason that Chad Ochocinco wasn’t penailized for the celebration where he “proposed” to a Bengals cheerleader. It wasn’t in the field of play, so it wasn’t a penalty even though the rule that stated one cannot go to the ground in a celebration had been put into effect a year or two prior.

  40. Lifelong Steeler’s fan here – Brett Keisel is one of the most stand up players in the league. But he should know the rules. No excuses. And while I think most of these ‘signature moves’ are stupid, I think the league is incredibly inconsistent with their penalties. Victor Cruz can dance in the endzone, the Lambeau Leap is allowed, but Jared Allen and Brett Keisel can’t celebrate theirs. I think the NFL needs to address these inconsistencies, as well as the inconsistencies in calling penalties overall. All this being said, that penalty didn’t cost us the game. Our inconsistent play all year cost us the game, as well as our dismal season. Oh well, time to regroup. There’s always next year! Happy New Year everyone!

  41. I was shocked about the penalty..thanks though! So Jumping in the air, swinging fists and even throwing the footballt into the stands? Putting a knee down to the ground is no danger or threat to anyone and it doesn’t even take a minute to do that celebration..I think its an emotional game and so the league just the players express themselves freely as long as its not hurting anyone

  42. What a great day for bashing the steelers. Hey, glad we were able to help release your poison….don’t hold back it will give you gas.. Yes excellence does cause considerable envy I can see.. Hating the refs is very useless because in the end it all evens out. Realists like me believe its very logical and easier on the ulcers…

  43. I’d like to echo lp0320, to the letter. Further, I have watched a whole bunch more Steeler games than any of you anti-Steeler jealous whiners, and they get their share of bad calls and always have. I can recall dreading, for instance, playing any game on the West (or, left) coast, primarily due to the home field officiating. Yes, it was always worse in Oakland than anywhere else. Now, to the real subject: there is no reason for any of the celebrating for merely doing their job. As a famous coach said: :”Act like you’ve been there”.

  44. That had to be the lamest celebration penalty call in NFL history. Please take away all celebrations so the players dont have to endure these stupid penalties. You might as well, the NFL is getting worse every year with poor officiating calls and penalty celebrations as it is, why not just take it away all together so we can’t all act surprised as when it happens.

  45. All of you seem to have forgotten that the NFL is supposed to be in the entertainment business. It’s not “real world”. The players are entertainers and nothing more. As such, their job is to entertain. If one wants to entertain by fake shooting a dumb bow and arrow after a sack…who really gives a flying f?

    I applaud Steelers’ fans. If that was JPP who got penalized for going to a knee after a sack (after all, he comes pretty close during his “celebrations”), that might have been my last straw watching this garbage that Goodell has force fed fans.

  46. The Stoolers knew the rule, they were just shocked that a ref actually threw the flag on them. I’m sure this ref will be docked a game check.

    Btw… stop looking for excuses, Steeler fans. The Bengals defense OUTPLAYED the Steelers defense (and offense). The Bengals earned the win, so stop the excuses.

  47. Reason they were shocked was, he has been doing that sack dance for a decade.

    Why was this the first time it was called? Did all the prior refs not know the rule?

    Just saying.

  48. called it from my couch as soon as i saw him do it. looked over and said to my wife “wish he hadnt done that. i really hope they dont flag him for going to the ground to celebrate.” stupid rule, but even stupider for not knowing. another symptom of the problem called lack-of-focus that has us unqualified for this year’s tournament

  49. I think these dances and celebrations are very professional. In fact, I’ve incorporated them into my profession-I’m a Principal, and every time I suspend a kid, I do a Billy White shoes Johnson move!

  50. It’s a tackle. Period. Go back to the huddle like you’ve been there before and plan on being there again.

  51. Reminds me of when Wes Welker got penalized for making a snow angel after scoring a touchdown against the Cardinals (I’m pretty sure). If it’s taunting, that’s one thing. But come on – there’s nothing wrong with what Keisel did. Let the guys have some fun. I love how acts like this are “unsportsmanlike” but Victor Cruz can taunt opposing fans with his stupid salsa dance every. single. time. and not get flagged.

  52. @whatjusthapped

    I didn’t know that going to one knee was allowed after a touchdown but not after a regular play. Kind of shows how silly some of the rules are.

    Thank you for the explanation.

  53. Thanks for the explanation about the religious exemption about one knee I didn’t know that was included so that’s why I was a little puzzled. Still think its dumb that they called it this time and not other times. I have no problem with the penalty if they regularly enforce it with everyone, not just when they feel like it.

    So from now on since they chose to call it now, they better call it every time

  54. Dec 27, 2012, 3:37 PM EST
    The steelers didnt know because they are favored by the refs and the nfl, and penaltys given to other teams somehow arent given to the stillers. Get real if they are not call it consistently then don’t call it

  55. Football is entertainment, but I’m entertained by good football plays. If I want to watch choreographed dance moves, I’ll watch Dancing with the Stars with my wife. I can do without goalpost dunks, endzone spikes, sack dances, gatorade dumps, and all of that. Bring back Barry Sanders flipping the ball to the ref in the end zone, and this grumpy old man would be happy.

  56. bathroombenlovemachine,

    She was indeed really drunk and happened to be white, but she wasn’t that fat in most eyes. Good thing for her, too, she could still squirm while pressed against the wall by a body much larger and heavier than hers until she was able to fall away to the floor (without hitting her head on the way down, contrary to some reports). There was a moment of silence as he looked down at her, and then he left.

  57. The rule states, you can not leave your feet in celebration, so fine everone who does a lambue leap, jumps to “dunk” the bLl over the uprights or take a knee in prayer. Or as pointed out, when rg3 does his lame tbing! Who cares???? He was t tUnting…..sad thing is ithe was doing it all year and only now got called on it.

  58. When Tim Tebow celebrates on one knee they call it “Tebowing”, everybody cheers, and no flag is thrown.

    Keisel does the same thing he’s been doing for 2-3 years, and suddenly last week it’s 15 yards.

  59. @mikebrown – take the chip off your shoulder – no one said the Bengals didn’t earn their win. They certainly did. If I recall, there were no excuses from either the Steelers or their fans – we lost and have no one to blame but ourselves.

    As for favorable calls from the refs – not one team in this league can say that they’ve never benefitted from a questionable call from a ref.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to the league office – until something is done to take the absolute power that Roger Goddell has , there will continue to be inconsistencies w/the handing out of penalties, fines and suspensions.

  60. Why are religious celebrations ok? I’m an atheist and celebrations like tebows offend me! They should just ban all celebrations, lambeau leap included, and then there would be no “grey” area.

  61. Steeler fans should never complain about the officiating. The SB games against Arizona and Seattle should be investigated by the FBI.

  62. I find all the celebrations ridiculous. Until they start (and continue) to penalize these celebrations, they will continue to become more outlandish as players will continue to push the envelope. The players are paid to do a job, make a touchdown or make a tackle. I wonder why players and fans find the goofy dances “cool” but am sure if an offensive lineman started dancing for every block he makes, everyone would think it’d be ridiculous.
    And does that rule go for kickers too? I see many kickers jump in the air or get picked up by fellow players (they are leaving their feet in celebration) and not get flagged. Or is it because it is a scoring play (I don’t know the rule inside and out)
    I find it ridiculous and would love to see celebrations canned. I don’t do any special dance when one of my students draws a straight line, it’d be ridiculous. Players are paid to do a job, just do your job.
    I listen to many of my students spend so much time choreographing their TD celebration. If they’d spend more time learning the plays, sound techniques and rules, they might just have a better shot at making their NFL dream (or college scholarship) come true. There are a few great role models in the NFL, but most seem to be poor models for today’s youth.

  63. Penalties are all a matter of perspective, I guess. When my friends and I watch Steeler games all we can see are the bogus ones the refs call against us and how we get screwed on non-penalties that should have been called on the other guys. One of my buddies jokingly swears the NFL is biased against the Steelers because of the Rooney rule, and every other white rich NFL owners’ racist perspective against it.

    Reality: Anyone who honestly thinks the refs are consistently calling biased games for or against any single team is fully a blithering idiot. Across all plays, across all games, it all evens out. Bank on it, the NFL sure is. They make plenty of bank, which would be threatened if they were biased.

    I do think maybe some of the individual refs might have personal biases against certain individual players at times. They are only human and I’d bet some players treat ’em like crap or badger the crap out of them. Be nice to those zebras. They’ll getcha in the end.

    Steelers do have a lot of haters tho.
    I’m kind of proud of that 🙂

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