Pittsburgh Steelers right guard Trai Turner was ejected after it appeared he spit toward a group of Las Vegas Raiders players.
Turner exited in the fourth quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct. The call came after Ben Roethlisberger and Najee Harris connected on a 25-yard touchdown pass that pulled the Steelers within two, 16-14, after the extra point. They went on to lose, 26-17.
Turner looked to be speaking with an official when he ran away from him and toward linebacker Marquel Lee. Before a different official could step between them, Turner pulled his head back and appeared to spit in Lee's direction as more Raiders came into the scene.
Raiders defensive tackle Solomon Thomas was flagged on the play for unsportsmanlike conduct, but was no ejected. B.J. Finney took over at right guard.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game that "someone spit in his face," which is what led Turner to retaliate. He said Turner is typically very even-keeled, which is why the coach argued with the officials regarding the ejection.
Mike Tomlin says on the fracas that led to veteran G Trai Turner’s ejection, “somebody spit in his face.” Says Turner is not overly emotional, that he’s actually “a flat liner,” and that’s why Tomlin so vehemently argued w/ the officials over the tossing.
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) September 19, 2021
Turner is in his first season with Pittsburgh. He spent the first six seasons of his career with the Carolina Panthers and the 2020 campaign with the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Steelers were already without All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt. He left in the first half with a groin injury and did not return for the second half. Watt was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2020 and signed an extension earlier this month that made him the NFL's highest-paid defensive player.
Pittsburgh is also without cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Devin Bush on defense. Both were inactive heading into Sunday with injuries. Nose tackle Tyson Alualu suffered an injury to his ankle in the first quarter and was helped off the field.