You may have been eager to rush over to your nearest social media device to rant following Cassius Marsh’s seven-yard sack of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger late in the fourth quarter of the Steelers Monday night affair against the Bears at Heinz Field.
You likely would have ranted about Pittsburgh’s decision to trade Melvin Ingram a week earlier, a move that came about not long after the organization decided to cut Quincy Roche and Jamir Jones. Did you consider Marsh, who was also cut by the Steelers over the summer, to be on the same level as any of those other backup outside linebackers? No, but what about that depth, damn it!
Fortunately for all irrational Steelers fans everywhere, right after Marsh sacked Roethlisberger, he did his best Bruce Lee impression by celebrating the play with an awesome spin kick. Right after that, Cassius Marsh did his best Cassius Clay impression by walking toward the Steelers bench and, I assume, telling his former teammates how pretty he was.
Actually, according to Tony Corrente, the referee for Monday night’s game and the man responsible for what would become a very controversial taunting foul, Marsh “postured” toward the Steelers bench.
Postured? Hahaha, what kind of kindergarten bullbleep is that? Exactly, it’s kindergarten bullbleep for a league that, as I said in an earlier article about taunting, can’t seem to get out of its own way. A spinning kick following a sack is okay because it’s a celebration, but posturing toward your opponent’s bench is not because it’s taunting?
Which is worse? How about neither should matter at all nor should they determine the outcome of a football game.
I’m not saying the call on Marsh cost Chicago a victory, but the Steelers were only up by three at the time of the sack and set to punt the football away with 3:40 remaining. The controversial call gave Pittsburgh a new set of downs and, ultimately, a six-point lead thanks to a 52-yard field goal by Chris Boswell with 2:52 remaining.
The Bears subsequently drove 75 yards and took a one-point lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Fields to receiver Darnell Mooney with 1:46 left in the game. However, a four-point lead would have changed everything.
The Steelers obviously wouldn’t have had the luxury of driving down the field for a game-winning boot by Boswell (he connected from 40 yards away to give Pittsburgh a 29-27 lead). Instead, the offense, one that has been struggling for over a year now, would have been forced to go for paydirt.
I’m not sure I would have bet on the Steelers' offense to pull that off in that situation.
As a supporter of the Steelers, I do not feel sorry for Chicago. I don’t feel sorry for the NFL, either. The league brought this on itself. The call that Corrente made was the right one if we’re going by the letter of the law (whatever that means with regards to taunting).
Below is Corrente’s full quote regarding the call, courtesy of Yahoo Sports:
“First of all, keep in mind that taunting is a point of emphasis this year. And with that said, I saw the player, after he made a big play, run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.”
“First of all” and “point of emphasis this year” are the key phrases in Corrente’s quote. When you start with the simple fact that the NFL is forcing its officials to emphasize taunting in 2021, what do you expect? Do you want officials to swallow their whistles at crunch time? Do you want them to be subjective when looking for taunting?
If the NFL was worried about a gray area, it shouldn’t have forced a black-and-white issue onto its officials.
I’m just glad the Steelers were on the good side of this stupidity for a change. Will they find themselves on the bad side of this whole taunting thing before the year is out? Maybe, or perhaps
much like the pass-interference fiasco of 2019, the league will realize what a huge bunch of bullbleep this whole thing is before it really costs someone a game or playoff spot.
But I won't hold my breath.