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NFL backs taunting penalty on Bears’ Cassius Marsh with $5,972 fine

Marsh’s actions toward the Steelers’ bench were highly debated by fans and media, but the NFL saw them clearly as a violation.

Marsh cost the Bears a third-down stop with his taunting violation in the 29-27 loss to the Steelers.

The NFL fully backed and affirmed the taunting call against Bears linebacker Cassius Marsh that cost his team a third-down stop Monday against the Steelers by fining him $5,972, a source said.

The league reviews all personal fouls and sometimes declines to fine a player if it believes the call on the field was incorrect or it was borderline enough to give the player the benefit of the doubt.

Marsh sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on third-and-eight with 3:16 left and the Bears down 23-20. As the Steelers sent out their punt team, referee Tony Corrente flagged Marsh for taunting. Rather than a punt from their own 46-yard line, the Steelers got a first down at the Bears’ 39-yard and went on to kick a field goal for a 26-20 lead.

The Bears rallied for a late touchdown, but the Steelers won 29-27 on Chris Boswell’s 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining. Had the Bears gotten the stop on Marsh’s sack and followed with the touchdown drive, the Steelers would’ve needed a touchdown to win.

Marsh’s taunting penalty fell within the league’s broad definition of the rule. He was not penalized for his celebratory leg kick or the incidental contact with Corrente on his way back to the bench. But after his celebration, Marsh took several steps and posed facing the Steelers’ sideline, and that’s what drew the flag.

Marsh disputed the call after the game and accused Corrente of a “hip check” that he believed was “incredibly inappropriate.” Bears coach Matt Nagy said he continues to support the anti-taunting policy and did not believe Corrente or Marsh intentionally made contact with each other.