The Pittsburgh Steelers made a surprising decision at the start of overtime on Sunday, and a confusing exchange left many wondering what was going on.
The Baltimore Ravens got the opportunity to call the toss and got it wrong, which allowed the Steelers the chance to choose what they would do. Official Walt Anderson seemed to talk with Cam Heyward a few times to make sure the Steelers defensive lineman made the choice he wanted.
The announced result was that the Steelers chose to defend a goal, which left Baltimore with the choice of receiving or kicking. The Ravens chose to receive.
— Matt Wintner (@MattWintner) October 6, 2019
Baltimore went 3-and-out and punted to the Steelers, who then had the chance to win the game with a field goal. The strategy seemed to work out well, but JuJu Smith-Schuster lost a fumble, giving the ball back to Baltimore. The Ravens ended up kicking to win 26-23.
Many questioned the Steelers’ decision, which would put them at a disadvantage under normal circumstances. However, these weren’t typical circumstances. The Steelers were on their third-string quarterback and probably thought the chances of him leading a game-ending touchdown drive were low. Not only that, but a turnover in their territory could lead to an instant game-ending field goal opportunity for Baltimore. Conversely, if the Steelers defense could force a stop, a field goal from Pittsburgh would win the game. Mike Tomlin probably thought the chances of Devlin Hodges leading a field goal drive were much better than the rookie leading a touchdown drive.
The surprising strategy was sound; the Steelers just lost because of a turnover.