The NFL is expected to hand down hefty punishment to coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise for his unflagged sideline interference of Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones on Thanksgiving, according to multiple reports.
Among the sanctions being contemplated as league officials review the incident: a six-figure fine for Tomlin, who stepped out of the way of Jones at the last possible moment to avoid a collision during the Ravens' 22-20 win at M&T Bank Stadium, a similar fine for the Steelers, and even the potential subtraction of a draft pick.
A suspension isn't anticipated for Tomlin, a Super Bowl winning coach who's a recent addition to the NFL competition committee.
Tomlin has said he did not intend to block Jones, but intent doesn't seem to matter much in this case.
The NFL warned teams about sideline interfence, including sending a video of examples of violations, last Wednesday, according to FOX Sports
Tomlin had his foot on the field. He wasn't penalized for sideline interference or unsportsmanlike conduct. The lack of a penalty could lead to a potential downgrade in status for the officiating crew.
There's a precedent for situations like this one.
During the 2010 season, the NFL fined the New York Jets $100,000 when strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi intentionally tripped Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll, a former Maryland player. In that case, though, it was determined that Alosi had organized the Jets to interfere with returns.
"I always watch the returns on the Jumbotron," Tomlin said last Thursday. "It provides better perspective for me. I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play. ... I do it quite often, like everybody else in the National Football League. I was wrong. I accept responsibility for it."