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Steelers' Tomlin hit with $100,000 fine

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined for stepping into the active area of the football field during a return.

HERE'S ANOTHER adjective Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin can call his ill-timed two-step onto the field last Thursday night against Baltimore.


The NFL fined Tomlin $100,000 yesterday for interfering with Baltimore's Jacoby Jones on a kickoff return in the third quarter of a 22-20 loss to the Ravens on Thanksgiving night.

The fine is the second-highest ever levied by the league on a head coach, behind only the $500,000 the NFL docked New England's Bill Belichick in 2007 for spying on an opponent's defensive signals.

There is also the chance the Steelers have a draft pick taken away "because the conduct affected a play on the field." Though he was not penalized, the league said the Steelers should have been flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

All that from what Tomlin called an "embarrassing, inexcusable" case of being "mesmerized" while standing in a restricted area that separates the sideline from the playing field and staring at the video board during Jones' 73-yard return.

Jones had to swerve to avoid running into the coach and was tackled during a return that might have gone for a touchdown if not for the obstruction. Tomlin briefly stepped onto the field before he jumped back.

Tomlin insists the "blunder" was not intentional but has no plans to appeal the ruling.

"I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization," Tomlin said in a statement yesterday. "I accept the penalty that I received. I will no longer address this issue as I am preparing for an important game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins."


* Cleveland defensive end Desmond Bryant's season has ended because of an irregular heartbeat that will require surgery.

The 27-year-old Bryant, who signed a 5-year, $34 million contract as a free agent with the Browns in March, reported symptoms on Monday morning, a team spokesman said. Bryant played in Sunday's game against Jacksonville and was credited with four pressures on Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne.

The Browns said Bryant will undergo "a minor heart procedure" this week. He is expected to make a full recovery and resume his playing career.

To fill Bryant's roster spot, the Browns promoted wide receiver Brian Tyms from the practice squad to the active roster.

* Matt Cassel is on track to start this week at quarterback for Minnesota, with Christian Ponder recovering from a concussion.

Coach Leslie Frazier said Cassel "more than likely" will start instead of Ponder when the Vikings play at Baltimore on Sunday. Frazier said Ponder had yet to pass all of the post-concussion tests.

* Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers expects a decision to be made by tomorrow - or Saturday tops - whether he'll be cleared to return to face Atlanta.

Rodgers has missed a month with a fractured left collarbone. He is back at practice on a limited basis, but doesn't want to speculate if he'll be medically cleared this week.

He also said it wouldn't be fair to Matt Flynn for the backup to wait until game time to determine whether he'll start.

* Buffalo signed free-agent tight end Tony Moeaki, who has not played since breaking his shoulder in a preseason game with Kansas City. The Chiefs releaesd him in October.

The Bills cut running back Tashard Choice to make room for Moeaki.

* St. Louis offensive guard Harvey Dahl returned to practice after missing four games with a left knee injury and expects to play Sunday at Arizona.

* Carolina defensive end Charles Johnson and running back DeAngelo Williams returned to practice. Johnson, who has 8.5 sacks, missed the past two games with a strained right knee after being leg-whipped by New England's Marcus Cannon. Williams, who has 610 yards rushing, missed Sunday's victory over Tampa Bay with a quad contusion suffered against Miami.

* The death of a Missouri man in an Arrowhead Stadium parking lot during Kansas City's game this weekend was ruled a homicide, but police said it could still take weeks before they know what killed him.

Kyle Van Winkle, 30, of Smithville, was unconscious on the ground when police responded to a disturbance call around 5:20 p.m. in Lot A at Truman Sports Complex, where Arrowhead is located.

Van Winkle, the son of a police sergeant, apparently left the stadium early in the game and went to the parking lot, where he got into a Jeep that looked like the vehicle he came to the game in, Kansas City police spokesman Tye Grant said.

The Jeep's owner found Van Winkle, which led to an argument. People tailgating nearby then came over and began fighting with Van Winkle, he said.

"He collapsed during the struggle and was found to be not breathing," Grant said. "That's when a person at the scene began doing CPR on him."

* London is getting its first NFL day game, creating a new morning time slot for viewers in the United States.

The NFL said the game between the Atlanta and Detroit at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 26, 2014, will start at 1:30 p.m. local time, making it a 9:30 a.m. Eastern time kickoff in the U.S.