View Full Version : Ben's heroics save Tomlin, Steelers

12-20-2009, 08:54 PM
Ben's heroics save Tomlin, Steelers
By Bob Smizik | Sunday 8:03 p.m.

It took an historic and heroic performance by Ben Roethlisberger to take a negative spotlight off coach Mike Tomlin's monumental gamble/blunder, but that's exactly what the Steelers quarterback did today at Heinz Field in a 37-36 win.

Roethlisberger threw a perfect 19-yard pass to Mike Wallace in the end zone as time expired. The pass was reminiscent of the game-winner Roethlisberger threw to Santonio Holmes in the Super Bowl. He threw the ball where only Wallace could reach it and at the same time get both of his feet down before his Mike Wallace (r) celebrates his game-winning catch with Hines Ward (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)momentum took him out of bounds.

The win left the Steelers with a 7-7 record and kept their playoffs hopes alive.

It took some -- but not all -- of the heat off Tomlin, who almost single-handedly cost his team the game.

After the Steelers took a 30-28 lead on a Jeff Reed field goal with 3:58 remaining, Tomlin elected to try an on-side kick.

The decision could be viewed as monumentally stupid or a clear indication of how little confidence the coach has in his one-time great defense, which gave up yet another fourth-quarter lead.

Tomlin is not a stupid man so the decision probably shows how little confidence he has in his defense. That lack of confidence was well-founded. When Tomlin gambled on the on-side kick, the defense already has allowed two fourth-quarter touchdowns. He understandably felt the only way to keep Green Bay from scoring was to not allow them to get the back.

But the gamble did not work. Ike Taylor touched Reed's kick before it went the necessary 10 yards and Green Bay took over on the Steelers' 39. As Tomlin feared, Green Bay scored in six plays. The quickness with which they scored was the Steelers' salvation.

In the broadcast booth where Fox was carrying the game, analyst Troy Aikman, a Hall of Fame quarterback, was dumbfounded by Tomlin's gamble.

``I don't understand this,' he said.'

It looked like Tomlin had sent the Steelers to their six straight defeat, but Roethlisberger would not be denied. His final pass to Wallace gave him 503 passing yards for the day.

And that's another story. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians came out throwing and rarely stopped as he stood tight with his belief that for the Steelers to be most effective the ball must be in Roethlisberger's hands. After the debacle against Cleveland, when the Steelers could not score a touchdown against the NFL's worst defense, it was expected Arians would go more to the run. But the Steelers first five plays were passes -- with the first going for a 60-yard touchdown to Wallace -- and the game plan was clear.

This time it worked.

Critics of Arians don't have a lot of ammunition to level against him today. Not only did the Steelers offense put up 37 points and 537 yards, they dominated the time of possession. The Steelers had the ball for 35 minutes, 22 seconds compared to 24 minutes, 38 seconds for Green Bay.

Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker carried a combined 11 times for 60 yards as Arians made clear how he will run this offense.

With the time of possession so one sided, there were no excuses for the defense which gave up 436 yards and a whopping 22 fourth-quarter points. Although Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the most sacked in the league, the Steelers got to him only once.

12-20-2009, 09:30 PM
I still say the gamble paid off.

Plan A was keep the ball.

Plan B was get the ball back with time to score and that's what happened.

12-20-2009, 09:50 PM
"MT is a defensive genius". Why hasn't he fixed the defense?

12-21-2009, 12:52 AM
"MT is a defensive genius". Why hasn't he fixed the defense?

Kinda difficult when you got guys like Tyrone Carter, Ike Taylor, and William Gay to work with. And the backups don't really offer a solution either.

God we need Troy back..

12-21-2009, 02:11 AM
"MT is a defensive genius". Why hasn't he fixed the defense?

I thought LeBeau was the genius. Why hasn't he fixed it?

Funny thing how the OC gets all sorts of crap on this site... but the DC gets a pass.

12-21-2009, 02:44 AM
Two things...

1. The defensive coordinator is a more proven commodity than the offensive coordinator, hence the longer leash.

2. I've criticized the defensive coordinator too.