Report: Dolphins coach fined for tripping an official while on the field during game against Steelers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The league reportedly fined Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi $10,000 for making contact with an official during Troy Polamalu's return of a missed field goal in the first half of Miami's win over the Steelers in Week 14. The play should have resulted in a penalty, and given the Steelers an untimed down.

The $100,000 fine issued to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and threat of further draft pick punishment was meant to serve multiple purposes - above all others, it was to be a deterrent against being on the field during a live play that no coach or any other personnel on the sideline should possibly be able to ignore.

Not only did it not even take a full half for an NFL coach to ignore the deterrent, but a coach did so against Tomlin's Steelers.

CBS Sports posted a picture - illustrating the report from Fox's Jay Glazer - that Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi clearly committed a similar sideline infraction while Steelers safety Troy Polamalu returned a missed field goal at the end of the first half.


No penalty was called, even though Rizzi was clearly on the field and way outside the area he was supposed to be in (which the league pointed to as the main reason behind Tomlin's fine). Moreover, Rizzi reportedly tripped the official (Tomlin never made contact with anyone during his incident).

With the penalty after the return, Pittsburgh should have had an untimed down from Miami's 25-yard line. That would either have been a 42-yard field goal attempt, or a shot at the end zone.

The Steelers lost the game 34-28.

Part of the league's reasoning behind the threat of removing or altering the placement of a draft pick owned by the Steelers was due to Tomlin possibly having cost the Ravens a chance to score a touchdown, and thus potentially affecting a playoff and draft pick tiebreaker (that is deep on the list of tiebreakers, but there nevertheless).

This situation appears to be no different in terms of the rule violated, but CBS Sports and Glazer indicate Rizzi was fined $10,000 and no other action is apparently expected.

One can argue a higher standard is held for Tomlin, which is understandable, but the stature of the person who interfered and made contact with an official while on the field during a live play has no relevance. If the Steelers end up with some kind of draft pick penalty due to Tomlin's error against Baltimore, the same argument can be made on behalf of the Steelers in this instance. A 42-yard field goal is certainly within Shaun Suisham's range, and Ben Roethlisberger can throw a football 25-30 yards to the end zone. Therefore, the lack of a penalty on the play potentially cost the Steelers points.

On a separate level, it is absolutely inexplicable that no flag was thrown, and clearly, the league keeping the fine quiet shows they're aware of it. This should compel the Steelers to protest in some form to the league. Multiple wrongs were clearly done here, and by the league's own mandate against Tomlin, it should take this seriously as well.

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