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Armando Salguero: Steelers Win Over Bears Features Two Winners And A Massive Loser

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have won four consecutive games and the Chicago Bears are going in the opposite direction with four consecutive losses after their game on Monday Night Football, but if you look beyond the score you’ll see winners on both sides and a loser who took the field but played for neither team.

Officially, the Steelers won this game, 29-27, getting the winning points on a 40-yard Chris Boswell field goal with 26 seconds to play. But that’s not the story.

The story is about Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He emerged from this game looking very much like a winner.

The story is also about Bears quarterback Justin Fields. He couldn’t lift his team to victory but every Bears fans who watched takes solace that the rookie took a significant step in his development.

Despite the result, Fields played like a winner.

The loser?

His name is Tony Corrente. He’s one of the NFL’s more decorated officials, having served as the referee for Super Bowl XLI in 2006 along with numerous AFC and NFC championship games.

Corrente was the referee for this game. And he had what looked to be a terrible night.

A losing night.

So those are the actors, now to the drama:

Roethlisberger had what even he might agree was an unremarkable outing until 1:46 was left to play. The Bears, you see, took a 27-26 lead late in the fourth quarter, but that meant the Steelers’ quarterback would get one final opportunity to decide the game.

And Roethlisberger completed all four passes he attempted as he marched his team 52 yards in 7 plays for the winning field goal. The feat was Roethlisberger’s 50th career fourth-quarter comeback.

“I was on the sideline and I thought they gave me too much time,” Roethlisberger said afterward. “I felt we could go down and we have, my opinion, one of the best kickers in the league.

“I wasn’t thinking about touchdown. I was thinking about getting us in field goal range and everyone contributed, it felt like everyone contributed on that drive.”

That was the game’s climax, but Fields provided plenty of drama just before that. Because the Steelers led with 26-20 with 2:52 to play when something exciting happened on the Bears sideline.

“When they scored, they kicked that field goal and went up six, there was a really pretty neat moment just looking on the sideline and you get the feeling from the players like, ‘OK, we fought back, we score a touchdown and it wins it,” Chicago coach Matt Nagy said.

“And I looked over at Justin and he had this smile on his face where it was like this was his time. And to see that, the confidence that gives you as a coach to see that, it was like he was almost hoping this was going to be the situation.

“And then for him to follow through and make the plays he made, when you talk about the growth for him and the offense in general, that’s a moment. That’s a moment.”

The moment led to Fields completing a 9-yard pass, then scrambling for 8 yards, then throwing a 39-yard completion to Allen Robinson. And then following that with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney for a 27-26 lead.

“My mindset was it’s time, we’re here,” Fields said. “You can either be the guy put in that position that doesn’t show up. Or you can be that guy who shows up in the big moment.”

And this is where we get to guys no one shows up to see: The officiating crew.

Those folks were quite prominent this game, calling a total of 17 penalties for 145 yards — 12 of those for 115 yards on the Bears.

And it wasn’t that there were penalties but there were penalties that set the course of the game.

The most egregious of these came on a taunting penalty called on Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh after he sacked Roethlisberger on a third-and-8 play, ending a Steelers drive.

Except Marsh celebrated by imitating some sort of martial arts kick and then walking toward the Steelers sideline where he sat last year as a member of the Steelers.

Marsh stared at the sideline for a couple of seconds and trotted back to his sideline but not before Corrente got involved.

The ref called a 15-yard taunting penalty on Marsh, which extended the drive and eventually led to a Steelers field goal.

Via the post-game pool report, Corrente said Marsh was called for taunting because, “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.”

First: Marsh was outside the hashmark, so he wasn’t really close to the Steelers’ bench area.

Secondly: Marsh didn’t do anything beyond looking at his former Steelers teammates really, really hard, which apparently now meets the NFL’s point of emphasis on taunting standards.

Third: Corrente responded to what he saw by hip checking Marsh as he trotted off the field.

https://twitter.com/LetItFlyAndrew/status/1457923520038584321

“I think it’s pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn’t taunting,” Marsh said. “I’ve been doing this celebration my whole career, and it’s just sad to see stuff like that in a close game like that.

“It’s just rough, man, I don’t want to say too much because y’all know how it is. The one thing I will say, I will say is on my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref. It’s pretty clear. If I were to do that to a ref or even touch the ref, we’d get kicked out of the game and possibly suspended and fined.

“I just think it was incredibly inappropriate, and that’s all I’ll say about that.”

Corrente was asked about this and said the only reason he threw the flag was for the taunting. Any contact between he and Marsh didn’t factor into decision to throw the flag.

“I didn’t judge that as anything that I dealt with,” he said. “That had nothing to do with it. It was the taunting aspect.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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