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#pounditThursday, October 21, 2021

Mike Tomlin defends his controversial decisions

Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin defended his controversial decisions following Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home.

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter and were able to bring the game to a touchdown margin on three occasions, but they were never able to tie things up. Among the decisions for which Tomlin was criticized was the playcalling on two 4th-and-1 plays, as well as the decision to attempt an onside kick late.

About the two 4th-and-1 plays where the Steelers were stopped (once in the first quarter and the other in the fourth), Tomlin said he was “comfortable” with the playcalls.

The other big controversy was calling for an onside kick attempt with 2:18 remaining despite having two timeouts and the two-minute warning. The Steelers were down 42-35 at that point, and Tomlin says he went for it because he didn’t trust his defense to get a stop.

People will continue to rip Tomlin for the strategy, but he has a good point. There was no reason to expect their defense to get the job done when they had just allowed consecutive touchdown drives. I’d rather try to keep the ball than give it away and have a chance to never see it again, just like Tomlin thought. And even though I prefer QB sneaks on 4th-and-1 situations, the Steelers twice threw touchdown passes with risky playcalls on other 4th downs they attempted. If you’re going to accept the rewards of their daring playcalls, it’s hard to complain when their playcalling decisions don’t pay off.

All that reasoning didn’t seem to mean much to the critics though, who were all over Tomlin after the game.

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