“I think that that one was just bad timing,” Marsh said. “I think 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. It’s just rough. I don’t want to say too much because you all know how it is.
“But the one thing that I will say is, you know, on my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref and it’s pretty clear. If I were to do that to a ref or even touch the ref, you know, we’d get kicked out of the game, possibly suspended and fined. So I just think that that was incredibly inappropriate. And that’s all I’ll say about that.”
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers actually caught several breaks from the officiating, put together a game-winning drive after falling behind late and continued to reassemble their once-broken season. The Steelers secured their fourth straight victory following a 1-3 start to the season. Bears kicker Cairo Santos missed a 65-yard field goal attempt as time expired when the ball fell short.
Kicker Chris Boswell’s 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining won it for the Steelers. The Bears had taken a 27-26 lead with 1:46 left on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Fields to wide receiver Darnell Mooney.
But much of the talk afterward was about Marsh’s taunting penalty.
“I had no idea till I got to the sideline,” Marsh said in a postgame news conference. “One of our coaches was upset. And he had the right to be. You know, that was a big penalty in a big point in the game and, you know, I cost my team. Whether I agree with the call or not, it cost us in a very crucial time. So I definitely feel a lot of remorse for costing my team a possible victory. But I didn’t know until I got to the sideline.”
Corrente told a pool reporter that he saw Marsh “run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.” Corrente said that his physical contact with Marsh “had nothing to do” with the penalty that was called.
The call came following Marsh’s third-down sack of Roethlisberger that would have caused a Steelers punt. Instead, the Steelers retained possession and upped their lead to six points with a 52-yard field goal by Boswell with 2:52 to play.
“I was on the sideline,” Bears linebacker Roquan Smith said. “But that’s not the play that lost us the game, by any means. I thought it was a BS call. The man’s been doing that celebration his entire career, for that to be called. But, hey, it is what it is. So there’s nothing else to be said about that.”
Marsh, who had been with the Steelers before being released in training camp, walked and looked in the direction of the Pittsburgh sideline after his sack, then turned and headed back toward the Bears’ side of the field.
“I did not see it,” Bears Coach Matt Nagy said. “So it’s hard for me to comment yet because I haven’t seen it. I think we all understand it’s a very, very emotional game. It’s a different deal when you’re watching it on TV. It’s a different deal. It’s an emotional game. And so that’s not excusing anything. But we’ve just got to be smart. It’s also an emphasis this year, right? It’s a major emphasis.
“So knowing that it’s a major emphasis, we all as coaches and players have got to make sure that you just don’t even put it in the gray area. Don’t put it in that area. You did a great job. You worked like hell to get off the field. So come off the field and celebrate with your guys.”
Taunting has been a point of emphasis for NFL officials this season. That led a relatively modest early-season uproar. The mini-furor had quieted recently. But that ended Monday.
“It doesn’t matter what I think when I look at it,” Nagy said. “But the biggest thing is I think they’re trying to direct is whatever you do, don’t do it to the opponent. Do it to your own teammates, right, if you’re celebrating or anything like that. So that’s the rules, and we’ve got to follow the rules. And that’s as simple as that.”
There was contact between Corrente and Marsh as Corrente turned and reached for his penalty flag while Marsh jogged by the referee toward the Bears’ sideline.
“I thought it was accidental,” Marsh said. “You bump into people on the field. It’s football.”
But he also said: “It’s upsetting. I think that it’s unfair that he has the ability to do that with no consequence.”
Earlier, the Bears had to settle for a field goal after having a touchdown pass from Fields to tight end Jimmy Graham negated when guard James Daniels was penalized for a low block, a ruling that was questioned on the ESPN broadcast. The broadcast also questioned some non-calls on hits on Fields by the Steelers.
As for the game itself, the Steelers continued to show that the tales of their demise had been greatly exaggerated — or, at least, premature. They pulled within a game of the first-place Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes to rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth. Rookie tailback Najee Harris added a touchdown run. Boswell missed an extra point but provided three field goals. T.J. Watt had three sacks to lead the defensive effort.
“Strange but sweet,” Roethlisberger told ESPN afterward. “It’s fun. We made it a little closer and more stressful than we needed to. But I’m proud of the guys, the way they fought all the way to the end.”
Mooney had a touchdown run and a touchdown catch for the Bears, who dropped to 3-6. The Bears also scored a fourth-quarter touchdown on a return of a fumble on a punt return by the Steelers.
“Ben took the offense down the field and we got the necessary field goal,” Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said. “And we were able to close the game out, and I’m thankful for that. … You can’t turn the ball over and give up scores in the kicking game. You do that, there’s a high probability you’re going to lose, let alone be in a tight game. And so we’ve got to hang on to the ball. We can’t give up scores in the kicking game. … We’ve got some lessons to learn. But it’s good to learn these lessons with a victory.”
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