Monday night’s game between the Steelers and Bears was turned upside down by a taunting call.
After making a stop, Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh looked towards the Steelers sideline and was called for a penalty.
Before throwing the flag, referee Tony Corrente appeared to draw contact between himself and Marsh.
The Chicago Bears’ comeback effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night was thwarted in part due to a controversial taunting penalty.
After trailing the entire game, the Bears cut their deficit against the Steelers to three points with just under four minutes left to play.
With Pittsburgh facing third-and-8 just past midfield, the Bears defense swarmed Ben Roethlisberger in the backfield with linebacker Cassius Marsh coming up with a sack.
It looked as though the Bears had forced a punt and would get the chance to tie or take the lead.
But the sack was erased when referee Tony Corrente threw a taunting flag. Marsh celebrated his big play with a spinning kick and then took a few steps towards the Steelers sideline to engage in a staredown.
The flag was decried as an unnecessary intervention by the officials. But to make matters even more awkward, replays showed that just before throwing the flag, Corrente appeared to throw his hip into Marsh as he jogged back to the Bears’ sideline.
The Steelers would get a field goal out of the drive, extending their lead to 26-20. While the Bears would respond with a go-ahead touchdown, the Steelers needed only a field goal to win the game on their final drive.
Pittsburgh may have needed a touchdown to win if Corrente kept the flag in his pocket on that key play.
Regardless of its ultimate effect on the outcome, the flag and the contact Corrente made with Marsh after the play was weird.
“On my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref,” Marsh said after the game. “It’s pretty clear. If I were to do that to a ref or even touch a ref, we’d get kicked out of the game. Possibly suspended and fined. I just think that that was incredibly inappropriate.”
Corrente said after the game that the call was by the letter of the law and that his contact with Marsh wasn’t why he threw the flag.
Corrente’s flag on Marsh wasn’t the only controversial call of the night to go against the Bears.
Chicago had a touchdown taken off the board early in the second half by a phantom low block penalty, forcing them to settle for a field goal instead.
Additionally, several roughing the passer calls and no-calls didn’t go Chicago’s way and left fans at home raising their eyebrows.
Even after all of the penalties, the Bears still had a chance to win the game in the end. After driving close to midfield, Chicago sent out kicker Cairo Santos to attempt a 66-yard field goal on the game’s final play.
Santos’ attempt fell well short of the crossbar, leaving the Steelers as winners of their fourth-straight game.
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