Steelers’ Mike Tomlin supports NFL’s emphasis on taunting: ‘We’re trying to clean our game up’

The Steelers emerged from their Week 9 “Monday Night Football” game against the Bears with a 29-27 win, but the end of the game wasn’t without controversy.

Bears pass rusher Cassius Marsh was flagged for a questionable taunting call after picking up a key sack on third-and-7 with 3:40 left in the game. 

The penalty kept the Steelers’ drive alive and allowed them to burn more clock and get another field goal. That extended their lead to 26-20 with just under three minutes left in the game.

The Bears, including Marsh, were understandably angry with the call. Meanwhile, NFL fans berated the league’s enforcement of the much-maligned emphasis on taunting.

But what did the Steelers think of the taunting call? Well, coach Mike Tomlin didn’t mind it at all. He actually praised the league’s emphasis on taunting during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

“We’re trying to clean our game up,” Tomlin said to reporters, per ESPN. “We embrace the responsibility of being the role models that we are. We understand people at a lower level watch us and mimic what we do.”

Tomlin is a member of the NFL’s competition committee, the governing body that recommended the taunting emphasis. Thus, it’s no surprise to see him come out in support of this rule.

That said, it’s fair to wonder how Tomlin would have felt if he was on the other end of this call. He still may have taken a diplomatic approach, like his counterpart, Bears coach Matt Nagy, did after the game.

“With 12 penalties, that’s too many,” Nagy said to reporters, per NBC. “What it does is it pushes you back or gives them free yards. You want to stay away from penalties and I think we need to be better there.”

Marsh was a bit more expressive with his thoughts on the call than his coach.

“I think it’s pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn’t taunting,” Marsh said. “It’s just sad to see stuff like that happen in a close game like that. Just rough.”

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