Analysis | NFL’s taunting controversy reemerges as Steelers edge Bears, 29-27

In a hail of penalty flags and debatable calls by the officials — including a taunting penalty on Chicago’s Cassius Marsh — the Steelers gave up the lead late in the fourth quarter but snatched it back and held off the Bears for their fourth straight win.

The controversy over the NFL’s taunting enforcement resurfaced in a major way Monday night in Pittsburgh.

Chicago Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh was penalized for taunting in a key moment during a 29-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Marsh called the penalty assessed on him erroneous and alleged that referee Tony Corrente inappropriately bumped into him as Marsh made his way to the Bears’ sideline after the play.

“I think that that one was just bad timing,” Marsh said. “I think it’s pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn’t taunting. 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. It’s just rough. I don’t want to say too much because you all know how it is.
“But the one thing that I will say is, you know, on my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref and it’s pretty clear. If I were to do that to a ref or even touch the ref, you know, we’d get kicked out of the game, possibly suspended and fined. So I just think that that was incredibly inappropriate. And that’s all I’ll say about that.”

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers actually caught several breaks from the officiating, put together a game-winning drive after falling behind late and continued to reassemble their once-broken season. The Steelers secured their fourth straight victory following a 1-3 start to the season. Bears kicker Cairo Santos missed a 65-yard field goal attempt as time expired when the ball fell short.

Kicker Chris Boswell’s 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining won it for the Steelers. The Bears had taken a 27-26 lead with 1:46 left on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Fields to wide receiver Darnell Mooney.
But much of the talk afterward was about Marsh’s taunting penalty.

“I had no idea till I got to the sideline,” Marsh said in a postgame news conference. “One of our coaches was upset. And he had the right to be. You know, that was a big penalty in a big point in the game and, you know, I cost my team. Whether I agree with the call or not, it cost us in a very crucial time. So I definitely feel a lot of remorse for costing my team a possible victory. But I didn’t know until I got to the sideline.”

Corrente told a pool reporter that he saw Marsh “run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.” Corrente said that his physical contact with Marsh “had nothing to do” with the penalty that was called.

The call came following Marsh’s third-down sack of Roethlisberger that would have caused a Steelers punt. Instead, the Steelers retained possession and upped their lead to six points with a 52-yard field goal by Boswell with 2:52 to play.

“I was on the sideline,” Bears linebacker Roquan Smith said. “But that’s not the play that lost us the game, by any means. I thought it was a BS call. The man’s been doing that celebration his entire career, for that to be called. But, hey, it is what it is. So there’s nothing else to be said about that.”

Source: Analysis | NFL’s taunting controversy reemerges as Steelers edge Bears, 29-27