Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, likely facing a fine for his on-field confrontation with referee Gordon McCarter, regrets charging the official and jamming a photo into his shirt pocket.
McCarter probably shouldn't wait for an apology, however.Cowher, upset with an incorrect penalty for too many men on the field, charged McCarter at halftime Sunday and shoved a picture showing the Steelers' alignment into the referee's pocket.
Cowher had tried to show the photo to McCarter during a timeout, but NFL officials cannot use photographic or video assistance in making a call.
Upon further review, Cowher said he shouldn't have been so demonstrative or gotten so angry.
"My action was not appropriate," Cowher said Tuesday. "The basic underline is that two wrongs do not make a right. That being the case, I have no further comment on the incident. I have not heard from the league."
Line judge Ben Montgomery's incorrect count was upheld by McCarter, although two other officials counted only 11. The error allowed Minnesota Vikings kicker Fuad Reveiz, who had missed a 48-yard field goal before the penalty, to make a 43-yarder.
"Ben stuck to his guns," McCarter said. "It doesn't go to a vote. In this case we had Ben stand firm on the initial call."
However, TV replays - both the Fox Network's and the Steelers' own videos - showed only 11 players. The press box-level photo that Cowher wanted McCarter to see also pictured only 11 Steelers.
NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue is investigating both Cowher's actions and Montgomery's incorrect call. In past cases, the NFL has given multigame suspensions to officials who made blatant judgmental errors.
"It's a very unusual and troubling situation," NFL director of communications Greg Aiello said. "The commissioner will review the entire episode ... the handling of the play by the officials and Bill Cowher."
After the game, Cowher called the incident "a debacle" and "an embarrassment to the league" and said he didn't care if he were fined. Steelers linebacker Greg Lloyd earlier was fined $12,000 for a preseason hit on Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre.
Several Steelers indirectly suggested Sunday that Cowher's anger might have been misdirected. The Steelers, who trailed 13-7 at halftime, committed turnovers on three successive plays early in the second half in the 44-24 loss.
"Sometimes people don't play well when they're ticked," linebacker Levon Kirkland said. "When you get mad like that, you can lose your focus."
Cowher didn't answer questions Tuesday about the incident but said he also has expressed his regrets to his players.
Despite his outspoken criticism of the call, Cowher said seven turnovers - not the error - caused the Steelers' worst home-field loss in his four seasons.