The story on Monday night should have been the impressive play of Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields. Ultimately, the Pittsburgh Steelers escaped with the victory, but Fields proved to everybody that he is the real deal.
However, the aftermath of the Steelers’ victory wasn’t about Fields or Ben Roethlisberger. It wasn’t even about Mike Tomlin adding another win to his resume.
Instead, it was all about an egregious taunting call that changed the course of the game. Oh, and it once again put the NFL referees under the spotlight for negative reasons.
The egregious taunting call that swung the pendulum in the Steelers favor and crushed the Bears hopes
The officiating in the NFL has been a massive topic of conversation. Among the miscues by the zebras, the taunting rules have been at the forefront. What taunting is in today’s NFL remains to be seen, and Monday night’s gross call was yet another chapter in the book of puzzling decisions.
In the 4th quarter, in a tight game nonetheless, the referees got involved more than they should have. Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh was called for taunting, and it just is something you have to see to believe.
After the game, Marsh didn’t hold back one bit and expressed his frustrations with the call (h/t Chris Emma of The Score).
“It’s upsetting. I just think that it’s unfair he has the ability to do that with no consequences.”Cassius Marsh on Tony Corrente initiating contact
However, Corrente insisted that Marsh motioned toward the Steelers bench after a massive sack. Then came the refs bumping into Marsh, and everything unraveled from that point forward.
Is that taunting? Who knows anymore. But the more significant point is Corrente clearly initiating contact with Marsh on his way to the sideline. Either way, it was an absolute mess at Heinz Field in the 4th quarter or a massive Monday Night Football game.
The questionable covered up the stellar play of the Bears rookie signal-caller
Everybody is talking about the situation with Corrente and Marsh — and rightfully so. However, let’s not forget that Fields lit it up in primetime with the entire country watching.
Yes, the Bears lost, but Fields was electrifying. He finished the game with 291 yards and a touchdown pass, the go-ahead score to Darnell Mooney in the game’s final minutes.
Across his body, in crunch time, in front of a packed Heinz Field with thousands and thousands of loud Steelers fans. It didn’t matter.
Fields delivered a strike to Mooney to put the Bears on top. Albeit, what came next was a perfectly executed Big Ben drive capped off by a Chris Boswell field goal.
Still, the Bears rookie stood tall and delivered time and time again. Why Matt Nagy refused to name him the starter earlier is still a giant question. Still, the former Ohio State star is finally piecing it together and letting everybody know he is the franchise quarterback in Chicago.
The fallout of this latest officiating blunder will be one to monitor but the NFL will once again close its eye
As Corrente mentioned, taunting is a point of emphasis this season. Everybody knows that.
But leaning into a player as clear as day is inexcusable. Moreover, there are far more questions from the past few weeks, and taunting as a whole has been more and more common recently.
So far through the 2021 season, there have been 31 taunting penalties. In the past two seasons combined, there were 20. Sure, they emphasize taunting more, but some of these calls — most of them, to be honest — are utterly ridiculous, and Monday night’s fiasco is just the icing on the cake that nobody wants to eat.
This needs to change quickly, and it is a shame that the main talking point is the officiating instead of the fantastic performance by Fields and a terrific Monday night game that resulted in a Steelers victory.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference