The Pittsburgh Steelers came into Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field as seven-point favorites and understandably so. The Steelers are a more talented side than the Bears and with home-field advantage, they should have had no issues brushing Chicago aside.
However, the game proved to be much closer than most anticipated heading into the final minutes. The Bears found themselves down 23-20 in the fourth quarter when Cassius Marsh came up with a massive play to stop the Steelers offense – or so he thought.
Immediately after bringing down quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a massive sack on third down, he was penalized for taunting by referee Tony Corrente. The sack would have forced the Steelers to punt the ball and give Chicago possession, but the penalty gave Pittsburgh an automatic first down and led to an eventual field goal.
Marsh claimed after the contest that he was “hip-checked” by Corrente moments before the flag was thrown.
“On my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref. It’s pretty clear,” Marsh told members of the media following his team’s loss, via CNN.
“If I was to do that to a ref or even touch a ref, we get kicked out of the game and possibly suspended and fined. I just think that that was incredibly inappropriate.
“I think that one was just bad timing. 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.”
Corrente did get an opportunity to explain the call after the game to a pool reporter, justifying his decision to penalize Marsh.
“First of all, keep in mind that taunting is a point of emphasis this year,” Corrente said, via CNN.
“And with that said, I saw the player, after he made a big play, run towards the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.”
The official also denied that the contact with Marsh prior to the play had anything to do with the flag being thrown.
“That had nothing to do with it. It was the taunting aspect.”
The loss is a detrimental one for the Bears, who now find themselves with a woeful 3-6 record for the season and will have a difficult time reaching the playoffs. However, Chicago head coach Matt Nagy was happy with his team’s effort and the fight they showed to come back during the game.
“When they kicked that field goal and went up six, there was a really, pretty neat moment on the sideline. You can feel it from the players, like, ‘OK, we fought back to get to this point where a touchdown wins it.’
“Then I looked over at Justin (Fields), and he had this smile on his face where it was like, it was his time. To see that, the confidence that gives you as a coach when you see that – it was like he was almost hoping that this was going to be the situation.
“Then for him to follow through with that and make those plays that he made, it was a really, really good feeling on that sideline. So when you talk about the growth for him and for the offense and just our team in general, that’s a moment.”
With the victory, the Steelers improve to 5-3 on the campaign. They will be in action next on Sunday afternoon when they host the winless Detroit Lions.