Re: So the Steelers try a surprise onside kick after
granted they (Pitt) won and when your qb goes for little over 500 yds i guess u deserve to win . . . but could have been top 5 dumbest coaching calls of the year . .why would you onside after taking the lead late in 4th qtr
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by TED MADDEN / WFAA-TV
Posted on December 21, 2009 at 12:52 PM
Updated today at 1:31 PM
This is not like the Bill Belichick decision a few weeks ago, when the coach went for it on 4th and 2 from their own 28. That decision (I still contend) was a good one, regardless of the outcome. Tomlin's call for an on-side with 3:58 left in the 4th quarter, after his team had just taken a 2-point lead, was a case of over-coaching. The Steelers failed to recover, and Green Bay converted the short field into 8 points. But Tomlin's offense bailed him out with a last-second touchdown.
In some ways, I am very results-oriented when it comes to coaching decisions. If you want to go for it on 4th down deep in your own territory in the 2nd quarter of a game, no problem - but it had better work. If you want to open the game with an on-side kick (like Andy Reid did a few weeks ago against the Redskins), go ahead, but your team better recover (Reid's team didn't, and the momentum swing nearly carried the Redskins to an upset win). The Belichick call to go for it was the right call (my opinion), and therefore not subject to second-guessing. It's like a poker hand - rarely is it a bad idea to go all-in preflop with ace-king; so if you lose the hand, it doesn't mean you made a bad play. But if you go all-in with seven-deuce .... it had better work. It's never the right decision, but the cards can bail you out. Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace flopped trips for Tomlin, with their last second touchdown.
Here was Tomlin's explanation:
"I'll be very bluntly honest with you, based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise we had a chance to get it, but if we didn't get it and they were to score, then we would have necessary time on the clock to score or match their score. Plan A didn't work, we got the ball but we were illegal, that was the correct call, but it kind of unfolded the way you envisioned it.
"We had 30 minutes of evidence that we could drive the ball on them, we also conversely had 30 minutes of evidence to show they could also drive the ball on us. That's why we took the risk when we did. We were just trying to win the football game. There was time left in that game that had we kicked that ball away and the half had gone the way that it'd gone, they were converting third downs. They would have moved the ball down the field on us, we wouldn't have had necessary time to respond. I'm just being honest, but it starts with feeling pretty good about the element of surprise and having a good chance to get that ball, but that part of it didn't work out."
If you thought Belichick was throwing his defense under the bus against the Colts, that was nothing compared to this. Aaron Rogers is no Peyton Manning, and I love Aaron Rogers. But you have to make Rogers prove it; he made his 30th start yesterday and his team's record in those games is 15-15. I know what Peyton Manning can do; I think I know what Aaron Rogers can do, but he has to prove it to me.
Now in Tomlin's defense, the play should have worked - except that Ike Taylor got a little too anxious and grabbed the ball a yard shy of the 10-yard mark (how many times do we see that happen in these situations). The Steelers had lost five games in a row, and I think Tomlin was trying to do whatever he could to break that losing streak. But just as we accuse players of trying to do too much sometimes, in this case the head coach tried to do too much. The difference was, the bad decision didn't lead to a loss. At least not this time.
Monday, December 21, 2009 Unlike Belichick, Tomlin let off hook
<HR width="100%" noShade SIZE=1>By Mike Reiss
<!-- template inline -->FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Where's the outrage? Where are the critics screaming arrogance on the part of the head coach, or that he'd lost his football mind?
Those questions arose when recapping the unexpected turn of events in Pittsburgh on Sunday, when the Steelers had their version of "fourth-and-2."
"Fourth-and-2," of course, needs no explanation to Patriots followers. It was the decision that coach Bill Belichick was vilified for in many circles -- going for it from the Patriots' own 28-yard line with 2:08 left against the Colts while holding a 34-28 lead.
Belichick didn't say it directly that November day, but he obviously felt his defense was cooked.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had the same thing on his mind when he called for an onside kick with 3:58 to play in Sunday's game against the Packers. The Steelers had just taken a 30-28 lead.
</TD></TR><TR><TD width=200>[FONT=verdana, arial, geneva]Mike Tomlin's fourth-quarter onside kick didn't work out the way he'd hoped but his team bailed him out with a comeback win.[/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
"We were just trying to win the football game," Tomlin explained after the contest. "There was time left in that game that had we kicked that ball away and the half had gone the way it had gone ? they would have moved the ball down the field on us [and] we wouldn't have had necessary time to respond. I'm just being honest, but it starts with feeling pretty good about the element of surprise and having a good chance to get that ball, but that part of it didn't work out."
It didn't work out because Ike Taylor was penalized for illegal touching, and six plays later, the Packers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:06 remaining. At that point, Tomlin looked like he was going to find himself in the crosshairs of some intense scrutiny.
Yet he hasn't taken anywhere close to the same heat as Belichick, in part because the Steelers dramatically came back to win the game with no time left on the clock on an improbable play. Was the win because of the onside kick or in spite of it?
That seemed like a fair question to debate, but one thing that isn't debatable is that Tomlin made the same sort of bold, unconventional decision as Belichick did on fourth-and-2. The main difference was the end result, even if it didn't unfold exactly as planned.
So does that make Tomlin arrogant? Is it fair to suggest that Tomlin thinks he's somehow above the game, or that he had a brain freeze?
Of course not, but that's what some were saying about Belichick. "Fourth-and-2" lived on for days, with seemingly every NFL precinct checking in to voice an opinion. A Google search on "Belichick, fourth down" turned up 257,000 hits today. On the other hand, a search for "Tomlin, onside kick" resulted in 15,400 hits.
Part of it, it seems, is that Belichick has few friends in the media and this was an opening for many to take some long-awaited uppercuts. Another part of it is the Tom Brady theory that tall trees often face the highest winds, as few have a loftier perch in the coaching profession than Belichick, not to mention that the Patriots have three Super Bowl titles this decade and have been an annual contender.
Surely, Belichick brings some of the scrutiny on himself with the way he often answers questions. After "fourth-and-2," for example, he didn't say he was protecting his defense, as Tomlin did, so it left much open to interpretation, which only seemed to fuel the feeding frenzy.
Maybe if Belichick answered in the same manner as Tomlin, "fourth-and-2" wouldn't have taken on a life of its own.
"I'll be very bluntly honest with you," Tomlin said Sunday. "Based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise we had a chance to get it, but if we didn't get it and they were to score, then we would have necessary time on the clock to score or match their score.