No Love for Mike Tomlin: Is ‘Botched Clock Management’ Reason For Loss Against Raven?


I put a post out yesterday asking folks who they thought was to blame for Sunday’s heartbreaker against the Ratbirds.  By late this afternoon the votes were mostly leaning towards LeBeau or the secondary as the ones to blame – with LeBeau edging out by one vote.  A decent amount of people voted for Tomlin to blame.  Even our very own Todd Pataky said the buck stops at Tomlin.  I myself voted for the secondary, even though I think that it was a combo platter of LeBeau and the secondary.  But I don’t think it was Tomlin to blame for Harbaugh getting his ummm… shower.

There is one particular moment I’ve heard numerous people question regarding Tomlin’s coaching – ‘Why not kick the field goal and get the delay of game?  It would have put points on the board!’

True.  But, Suisham would have been attempting over a 45 yarder at the dreaded open end of the field.  He’s been a little inconsistent this season at only 75% accuracy.  His longest for the season is 48 yards.  What would you do in that situation?  Should Suisham miss, that puts the ball in great field position for Baltimore with plenty of time left on the clock.  Also, kicking off to Baltimore puts things in the hands of special teams coverage, something the Steelers have never been great at.  Kick the ball high and there’s no chance for a return.  Worse case scenario, you put Baltimore at the 20 with a touchback.  Your defense has been playing solid for most of the evening.  Baltimore’s longest drive of the night was 70 yards on the first drive.  Since that, the Steelers held Baltimore to drives no greater than 50.  Blitzing and coverage had been working well most of the game, and your secondary has proven to shut down receivers all season so far.  What would you do in that situation? …….. I punt the ball and trust my D.

Not to pick on Todd, but he didn’t like the 3rd and 5 call with a pass.  Let’s look at the 1st and 2nd downs.  On 1st and 10, Redman ran for a loss of three.  Baltimore called its second timeout.  Ben then checked down to Moore for a gain of 8.  Baltimore called it’s third and final timeout with 2:37 left.  That leaves you with a 2 minute warning.  Should the Steelers run and not get the first, the clock would stop at two minutes.  Field goal of 45 yards or punt at that point.  I think it wasn’t a dumb move to pass at that point.  Stay aggressive.  It’s what most of us complain about most of the time anyways – the Steelers shell up on offense and defense when they have the lead.  Tomlin wanted that first down and passing was the best way to get it.  The ball fell incomplete to a sure handed MeMo.  Again, let the D pick it up then if the offense fails.  For those counting, the Ravens didn’t use that final timeout in the winning drive….

Ultimately, it is the head coach taking the fall because he’s responsible for everything that happens on that field.  Yeah yeah I get that.  But the reality is that the defense stopped doing what had been working all game, allowed the Ravens to get open across the middle for first downs and on the sidelines to stop the clock on other downs.  Dicky Beau made a bad decision to change things.

The secondary, in part because of what LeBeau changed, became less aggressive and let the receivers get the jump they needed off the snap.  The blitzes never had time to materialize because the receivers were able to get down field enough for Flacco to start throwing.  Not a single Steeler was in his face that final drive.  Simply awful.

So things tanked in the last three minutes for the Steelers.  Kind of harkens back to the 2009 season.  But don’t throw Tomlin under the bus just yet….