NFL

Steelers' Tomlin supports the NFL's emphasis on taunting penalty

With his team having recently benefited from the controversial rule, is the Steelers' coach stating the obvious?

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Steelers' Tomlin supports the NFL's emphasis on taunting penalty

Though it could be argued that his team recently won as a result of the controversial rule, the Steelers' coach has never hidden his feelings.

Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin supports taunting penalty

If there is one topic that has garnered a significant amount of criticism this season, it is the NFL's increased emphasis on the taunting penalty. For Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, however, it's quite the opposite as he is an avid supporter of the rule and its enforcement.

Tomlin who is a member of the NFL's competition committee was speaking on Tuesday when gave his views on the heavily debated rule. "We're just trying to clean our game up," he said on Tuesday. "We embrace the responsibility that comes with being the role models that we are. This game being played at the highest level, we understand that people who play at a lower level watch us and often mimic the things we do and how we conduct ourselves and just largely as a league competition committee specifically, there was a desire to improve in that area. That's been expressed to our guys. "

The Steelers themselves have not yet had to be on the receiving end of a taunting penalty, but they most certainly have benefited from one as a crucial flag was raised on a play in their 29-27win against the Chicago Bears on Monday night. Linebacker Cassius Marsh, a former Steeler, sacked Ben Roethlisberger on third down late in the fourth quarter. Marsh then celebrated by performing a roundhouse kick while staring at the Steelers bench. He then proceeded to walk in their direction eventually bumping into official Tony Corrente. Marsh was flagged for taunting and a 15-yard penalty was given to the Steelers which resulted in a first down and and the eventual 52-yard winning field goal by Chris Boswell.

Marsh and Corrente give their views

Speaking on the incident Marsh was honest, "I think that one was just bad timing. It's pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn't taunting," Marsh said. "I've been doing the celebration my whole career. It's just sad to see stuff like that happen in a close game like that."

For his part, Corrente gave his side of the situation in a pool report. Justifying his decision on the play he said that the contact he had with Marsh was not a factor into the flag. "First of all, keep in mind that taunting is a point of emphasis this year," he said. "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. I didn't judge [the contact] as anything that I dealt with. That had nothing to do with it. It was the taunting aspect."

Steeler's Tomlin sees it as learning opportunity

Tomlin was quick to point out that penalty on Marsh was in fact an opportunity for his players to learn. "We've been shown examples of that throughout team development," he said. "...And we continue to reinforce that as examples in a negative way turn up through the course of journey, for us and for others."

The Steelers' coach has been well documented as a supporter of the controversial taunting penalty and it's enforcement this season, going back as early as August when he spoke on the issue ahead of a preseason game. Speaking on what he tells his players regarding the rule he said, "Not anything out of the ordinary. That's not something that we subscribe to or delve into. Nothing out of the ordinary. We're appreciative of the league's willingness to crack down on some of that."

Back in September, Tomlin had already made clear where he stood. "I've been focused on the stadiums that we're in, but all of us, to a man, acknowledged that that's something that needed to be addressed," he said at the time. "That's why it's a point of emphasis and that's why none of us are surprised by the number being increased. The players will adjust. They always do. They'd better adjust quickly, and specifically speaking of mine."