The Pittsburgh Steelers privately fear that the NFL will dock them a late-round draft pick after Mike Tomlin seemingly prevented a touchdown on a kickoff against Baltimore, Jason La Canfora of CBS reports.
Tomlin was caught on camera standing in the way of Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones as he sprinted down the sideline during Thursday game, which Baltimore won 22-20.
Tomlin moved at the last minute, but Jones had to cut inside and was tackled:
Peter King of SI says that the NFL will hand down a penalty on Wednesday, and it'll likely be a hefty fine instead of a suspension or loss of draft pick.
But the Steelers are preparing for the worst. From La Canfora:
"Internally, the Steelers are also concerned that their coach's action will cost them a draft pick, sources said, something they do not take lightly, even in the late rounds (where the loss of pick would come)."
"This was a game on national television, with massive playoff implications, and the review is expected to be completed on Monday. There has been no communication with Tomlin on the matter and none is expected. Players, for instance, are not asked for comment to discern intent or provide excuses prior to them receiving on-field discipline, though Tomlin would of course be eligible to appeal and make his voice heard at that time."
The NFL stripped the New England Patriots of their first-round pick after the Spygate controversy in 2007. But we haven't seen a penalty that harsh since.
Tomlin maintains that he didn't do it on purpose. Ravens QB Joe Flacco and coach John Harbaugh accused him of cheating after the game, and it appears that the NFL is going to treat the interference as if it was intentional.
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