Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin supports the NFL's crackdown on taunting ... but not when it happens to one of his players.
Tomlin took issue with a taunting call during Sunday's game against Kansas City, saying officials "have to exercise some common sense" when throwing a flag.
The penalty occurred with just under five minutes to play in the third quarter. Receiver Ray Ray McLoud snagged a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to convert a third down. As McLoud was getting up, he made a first-down motion in front of Chiefs defender L'Jarius Sneed. That drew a flag from the official, who had a front-row seat to the exchange.
Following the contest, Tomlin said he disagreed with the call, and that McLoud didn't realize Sneed was there, according to Pro Football Talk.
“I categorically disagreed with it. I thought that Ray Ray was signaling first down, and he turned around to do so and the guy just happened to be there. I think we have to exercise some common sense,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin's argument doesn't hold up on review. McLoud started the gesture before looking at Sneed, but definitely noticed Sneed before signaling for the first down. That may have resulted in McLoud giving a much more subdued first-down gesture, but he still made one. Since Sneed was right in McLoud's face, it was an easy flag for the official.
The incident occurred with the Steelers down 30-0. The team attempted to mount a late comeback, but still fell 36-10 to the Chiefs. It's the second time a receiver signaling a first down has hurt the Steelers this season.
Mike Tomlin supports NFL's taunting crackdown
Tomlin, who is part of the league's competition committee, has supported the league's crackdown on taunting on season. Tomlin addressed the issue multiple times since August, always agreeing with the league's stance. When the Steelers benefitted from a controversial taunting call against the Chicago Bears in November, Tomlin continued to back the crackdown.
With the shoe on the other foot, Tomlin did not like the call. His larger point, about officials using "common sense," is legitimate criticism.
That same advice could apply to Tomlin's players, who shouldn't emphatically celebrate a first down when trailing by 30 points.