PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin was "mesmerized."
He was also, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach admits, out of position.
Way out of position.
Tomlin was so awed by the way Baltimore's Jacoby Jones raced through the Steelers crumbling kickoff return unit in the third quarter Thanksgiving night, Tomlin couldn't take himself away from watching it all unfold in high definition on one of M&T Stadium's video boards.
Only when Tomlin — standing on the white strip of grass meant to separate the playing field from the sideline — saw his black-and-gold jacket and black baseball cap flash across the screen did he realize it might be a good time to move.
As Tomlin danced to his left, Jones edged right to avoid bowling the coach over. Pittsburgh's Cortez Allen made the tackle after a 73-yard return, a bizarre play that will be remembered far longer than Baltimore's eventual 22-20 victory.
It's an ill-timed two-step the 41-year-old Tomlin allows was a lot of things, namely "embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal and a blunder."
The one thing it wasn't, he insists, was intentional.
"The thought that it could be perceived as intentional never even crossed my mind," Tomlin said Tuesday during a lengthy and candid apology. "I realized I fell short of the expectations of my position in being where I was and my actions on the play. I am not one to seek comfort from that standpoint, so I was just going to take my medicine."
Tomlin was not flagged on the play.
"I don't know what a just punishment is," he said.