CINCINNATI -- During a first half that was full of bizarre moments, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham found himself for several minutes directly in the middle of one of the more wacky sequences of Sunday's game at Detroit.
What happened could end up having serious consequences for him.
With 7:55 remaining in the second quarter, the fourth-year tight end got a little upset with Lions defenders at the end of a 7-yard Giovani Bernard run. Caught in the high emotions of the moment, Gresham appeared to be barking at Detroit defensive end Willie Young before officials tried to intervene. When they did, he pushed away from one of them, making contact.
Immediately, he was flagged 15 yards for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
It is against NFL policy for a player to make contact with referees. If improper bumping or shoving occurs by a player, a $26,250 fine could be levied by the league, according to its fine schedule. A $21,000 fine could be handed down to players who commit some kind of verbal or other type of non-physical offense against an official.
Asked Monday afternoon if the fallout from the incident appeared to be over, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis simply said, "I don't know. It's up to the league."
Just after Gresham was flagged, he came back to the sideline when the drive stalled out two plays later. Moments after Mike Nugent's 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left to officially end the possession, cameras spotted Gresham angrily walking into Ford Field's tunnel toward the Bengals' locker room. As he was disappearing out of view, Gresham seemed to slam his helmet against the wall.
For about three minutes, there was confusion as to whether Gresham had been ejected or asked by his coaching staff to leave the field. When asked what that part of the incident was all about, Lewis coyly deflected saying, "he wanted to clear his own head."
By the end of those three minutes, Gresham came jogging back out of the tunnel with receiver Andrew Hawkins. Still part of the injured reserve until next week, Hawkins wasn't dressed, but has watched every game this season from the sideline.
Gresham participated in the next series and went on to catch four passes for 64 yards. He also had a false start penalty in the fourth quarter that pushed the Bengals back from a third-and-1 scenario into a third-and-6 situation. On the ensuing play, quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked, forcing a punt. The penalty wouldn't end up hurting, though, after the Bengals forced a Lions punt with less than 30 seconds remaining.
In that time, they were able to run two plays and bring on Nugent for the game-winning 54-yard field goal, which he made as time expired.