Referee Tony Corrente explained his decision to penalize Chicago Bears defensive end Cassius Marsh for taunting following the Bears' 29-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero tweeted a transcript of Corrente explaining the call to pool reporter Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago following the game:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
Referee Tony Corrente to pool reporter <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamHoge?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AdamHoge</a> 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.” <a href="https://t.co/KJH5ubgh9B">pic.twitter.com/KJH5ubgh9B</a>
Corrente noted that taunting is a "point of emphasis" in the NFL and 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."
Marsh's sack would have forced the Steelers to punt with a three-point lead and three minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the game, but the penalty instead gave them a first down and allowed them to kick a field goal to extend the lead to six.
The Bears scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:46 remaining, but Pittsburgh took back the lead for good on a Chris Boswell 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds left.
When Marsh was running back to the sidelines after his sack of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he made some contact with Corrente.
The contact appeared incidental on Marsh's part, although Corrente did seem to stick his body out in a hip-checking motion when Marsh ran past. Corrente then threw a flag as the contact was taking place.
While speaking to reporters after the game, Marsh took issue with the apparent hip check, saying: "On my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref. It's pretty clear. 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."
Corrente told Hoge the contact between himself and Marsh had nothing to do with the flag, and that it was based solely on his belief that Marsh was taunting the Pittsburgh sideline.
The 29-year-old Marsh is a journeyman player in his eighth NFL season and playing for his eighth different team.
A 2014 fourth-round pick out of UCLA, Marsh has 15 career sacks in 93 regular-season games.
The sack of Roethlisberger late in Monday's game may have been the biggest of his career to date, although the penalty essentially rendered it moot and kept Pittsburgh's drive alive.
Chicago still had an opportunity to win the game, but it left too much time on the clock for Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense to hit the go-ahead field goal in the waning seconds.