The Chicago Bears were flagged for a critical taunting penalty in their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night, and they probably did not feel any better about the call after referee Tony Corrente’s explanation.
The Bears were trailing late in the fourth quarter when linebacker Cassius Marsh was flagged for taunting after his huge third-down sack. That gave Pittsburgh a fresh set of downs in field goal range. Chicago players and coaches were understandably furious, as all Marsh did was look in the direction of the Steelers’ sideline. Here’s the video:
Cassius Marsh made a huge play but it was called back because of taunting
— Sportskeeda Pro Football (@SKProFootball) November 9, 2021
Corrente also made brief contact with Marsh as Marsh was running off the field. It looked like the ref leaned in to the contact a bit, and he tossed the flag high into the air right after the two bumped into one another. Corrente said the contact had nothing to do with the penalty. He felt Marsh postured toward Pittsburgh’s sideline in a way that constituted taunting.
Referee Tony Corrente to pool reporter @AdamHoge on why he threw a late taunting flag on Chicago’s Cassius Marsh: “I saw the player, after he made a big play, run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.” pic.twitter.com/KJH5ubgh9B
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 9, 2021
The Steelers kicked a field goal. Chicago responded with a touchdown to take a 27-26 lead on the next drive, but the Steelers took the lead back on a field goal to go up 29-27 with just 30 seconds to go. You could argue that Corrente’s call had a direct impact on the outcome of the game.
Of course, taunting penalties have been a huge issue in the NFL all season. Most people think the league has gone way too far, but there has been no indication that officials plan to ease up.