Watch CBS News

Mike From Woburn: What Else Will NFL Let Mike Tomlin, Steelers Coaching Staff Get Away With?

By Mike From Woburn, 98.5 The Sports Hub Contributor

BOSTON (CBS) -- This weekend's slate of wild card playoff games had an interesting theme of history repeating itself.

You had a Vikings kicker choking in the postseason. You had a Texans QB completely melting down. You had Marvin Lewis' Cincinnati Bengals being Marvin Lewis' Cincinnati Bengals. And you had a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff wandering onto the field and directly affecting the outcome of a game.

Look, it's not surprising that the Steelers and Bengals played a game that devolved into an embarrassing gridiron version of a Jerry Springer Show fracas. It was, frankly, almost expected. You have one coach in Mike Tomlin that has recently been accused of losing control of his on-field charges, and on the other side you have Marvin Lewis, who has never had a Bengals team he's coached in his 13-year career in Cincinnati under anything remotely resembling control.

So when Vontaze Burfict baptized Antonio Brown with a throwback hit on an overthrown pass over the middle, as the Steelers were trying to drive for a game-winning field goal, the two volatile elements reached critical mass.

In the meantime, Steelers fans took to social media to decry a hit so violent and so cheap that they forgot about the Ryan Clark jerseys they were wearing or his identically malicious hit on Wes Welker in 2008.

Wes Welker layed out by Steelers Ryan Clark by StFranniesHighschool on YouTube

Burfict was flagged for an unnecessary roughness personal foul, which put the Steelers into field-goal range with 18 seconds to play. This would have been a 50-plus yard attempt for rookie kicker Chris Boswell, so a gimpy Ben Roethlisberger would have had to run at least one more play, as the Steelers kicking game this season has been about as reliable as Ryan Mallet's alarm clock.

Enter Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter, who unquestionably puts the "ass" in assistant. Porter used this as an opportunity to jaw with the Bengals. This caused Bengals defender and human explosive Adam "Pac-Man" Jones to lose his mind and push Porter. Another flag against the Bengals resulted, and for the first time in his career, Joey Porter's mouth both wrote a check and actually had the funds to cover it.

To summarize: A Steelers coach went onto the field and he illegally and demonstrably affected the course of a game. Roethlisberger didn't have to take another snap because Joey Porter trash-talked the Steelers into chip-shot field-goal range.

First of all, this should have been the easiest offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the history of the league. If having two guys flapping their arms in the end zone is a 15-yard flag, Joey Porter flapping his gums should probably count for 30 -- 15 for each gum.

Secondly, it should have been the second time in the same game that a member of the Steelers' coaching staff was penalized for interacting with a player. Pittsburgh offensive line coach Mike Munchak got tangled up with Bengals safety Reggie Nelson, and 100 percent without question yanked a handful of Nelson's long dreadlocks in an effort to shove him away.

Anyone out there seeing a pattern yet?

But third of all, Porter's antics -- which according to a Forbes report directly violate Article 1, Section 8 of the NFL rulebook -- marks the second time in three years that a Steelers coach has gone onto the field of play, and in doing so, has directly and illegally influenced a game.

Who can forget Mike Tomlin using the Baltimore Jumbotron as his own personal rearview mirror and stepping out from the sideline just enough to force Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones to cut back inside, where he was tackled by his pursuers. If Tomlin had stayed out of the way, Jones probably scores. The smirking Tomlin's obviously intentional antics went inexplicably un-flagged on the field, and Pro Football Reference still hasn't given him an assisted tackle on that special teams play.

Steelers coach tries to trip ravens player by Kelvin Velasquez on YouTube

Unfortunately for Tomlin, a national TV audience kinda sorta picked up on his shenanigans. Media hue and cry, as well as Zapruder-caliber evidence, forced Roger Goodell to act. Tomlin was fined $100,000 -- the same amount Mike Tice was fined in 2006 for scalping Super Bowl tickets.

That was it.

No suspension and no loss of draft picks despite rumblings that the league would pursue draft pick penalties as well. The league waited until the following March to let everyone know that a coach's infraction that had a measurable and tangible impact on a game (instead of a touchdown, the Ravens had to kick a field goal) was not worthy of additional draft pick discipline.

And now we have another case of a Steelers coach clearly inserting himself into a game situation deliberately and once again illegally affecting the outcome of a game.

Can you say "repeat offender"?

When NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent first handed down the Patriots' punishment for "more probably than not" deflating footballs, he stated that "Violations that diminish the league's reputation for integrity and fair play cannot be excused simply because the precise impact on the final score cannot be determined."

Now with the Steelers we have not one, but two violations that are proven with far more certainty than "more probable than not" and also had tangible and quantifiable impact on the final score of two games, one of which decided a playoff contest. You would think that the league would have to come down on a recidivist offender like the Steelers far more significantly than just another fine.

You would also think that Tomlin, who expressed remorse and embarrassment after his sideline antics were exposed, would have tried to exert more control over his staff. But it would seem by the Steelers referring to Porter as the "MVP" in the postgame, and there being (unfounded) reports of him receiving a game ball from Tomlin, that this wasn't the case.

I'm sure the NFL will look into this, just like they are still looking into Steelers tight end coach James Daniel's alleged kicking of a Patriots fan on opening night. I am sure that there will be immediate fines given to Porter and Munchak. And there will probably be talk of further penalties pending a more complete investigation.

But ultimately, for whatever the reason, the Steelers will walk away having demonstrably cheated, with the coaches' actions tangibly impacting a game, and will only be a few dollars poorer because of it.

History repeats itself yet again.

Mike From Woburn, formerly known as Mike From Attleboro, is a regular caller to the Felger & Massarotti Show. You can find him on Twitter @MikeFromWoburn.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.