Bears player says ref hip-checked him while preparing to throw taunting flag

The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Chicago Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh defends during (59) an NFL football game, Monday, November 8, 2021 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

The Pittsburgh Steelers' 29-27 win over the Chicago Bears on Monday night was a wild one.

There was drama, a few big plays and a bit of controversy ⁠— and that just in the fourth quarter.

As for the controversy, Pittsburgh led 23-20 with under 4 minutes to play when Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a third-and-7 play from the Chicago 47.

Marsh got up, celebrated and then looked at the Steelers bench, perhaps uttering a few words. For some reason, that drew a flag for taunting.

Given the first down on the play, the Steelers ended up kicking a 52-yard field goal, and those three points were kind of important, right?

But that's only part of the story. Marsh said he was hip-checked by referee Tony Corrente, who is in his 27th NFL season as an official.

Referee Tony Corrente signals a penalty during the second half of an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

"I think it's pretty clear to everybody who saw it, I wasn't taunting and I've been doing the celebration my whole career," Marsh told reporters after the game. "It's just sad to see stuff like that happen 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.

"But the one thing that I will say is 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, we'd get kicked out of the game and possibly suspended and fined. So I just think that that was incredibly inappropriate. And that's all I'll say about that."

You might be thinking a ref wouldn't do something like that, but it sure appears as if that's exactly what happened in this video from Will Brinson of CBS Sports:

What do you think? Do you think Marsh is right? Or was it an accident?

Corrente gave the following explanation on the flag to pool reporter Adam Hoge: “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.”

The video, however, clearly shows Corrente threw the flag after contact was made with Marsh. And Corrente was the one who initiated the contact.