I Say BOO! Not BOO-URNS! To The Steelers Late Game Strategy


I will be honest, I turned the Steelers vs. Titans game off before it had completely ended.  What exactly spurred my negative reaction?  Well, the moment I saw that the Steelers were actually lined up to go for a 54 Yard Field Goal, on grass, with around 1 minute left in the game, I just had a sinking feeling that Pittsburgh’s ridiculous gamble was primed to back-fire in the worst possible way.  How or why Head Coach Mike Tomlin even gave the “go-ahead” and sent his Kicker Shaun Suisham out in that situation still remains a mystery to me.

Tomlin blamed himself for the Field Goal attempt. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Why, Seriously, Why?

Here were a few of the thoughts running through my head after the 3rd Down attempt fell incomplete:

  • The Field Goal kick itself would have taken a minor miracle for Suisham to simply split the uprights, especially on a grass surface.  Tomlin and his Special Teams Coach Amos Jones had to have known that Suisham’s career long Field Goal up to that point was 52 Yards.  And this is especially true when one considers that Suisham tied his own record earlier in the game.  They also had to have known that Suisham has a 41.6% Field Goal Percentage (5 for 12) from 50+ Yards over his 7+ year career!
  • The thought had to cross Tomlin and the Coaching Staff’s minds’ that in the likely event that Suisham missed, Tennessee would get the ball at their own 45 Yard Line with just under 1:00 to play and needing only 3 points off of the toe of the strong-legged Rob Bironas.  And even if Suisham somehow sets his career mark, the Titans would have had a shot at a kick return with the dangerous Darius Reynaud with time for a solid return, and time for their Offense to work.
  • On the other hand, a punt on 4th Down last night would have made the most sense, and why the punt team was not sent out in that situation continues to baffle me.  A simple pooch-kick would have given Tennessee’s mediocre Offense at the very worst the ball on their own 20 due to a Touchback.  Had Drew Butler pinned them inside the 15 or even inside the 10, the Titans could have played for Overtime and not taken as many chances through the air to not risk a Turnover with under 1 minute to play.
  • The attempted Field Goal was also a foolhardy gamble because there was no way Pittsburgh’s sieve-like Defense would have been able to hold against a veteran Quarterback like Matt Hasselbeck in need of only three to four 1st Downs if the kick was missed.  “The Satin Curtain,” the apt name I will be referring to this 2012 unit from now on, had just given up an 11 play 80 Yard Drive which took almost 4 minutes off of the clock the last time they took the field.  If the Steelers had at least pinned the Titans at their own 20, or even further behind, Tennessee would have had a much more difficult time driving down the field with the time allotted, and been liable to even make a mistake.
  • I am not angry at all that I turned the game off on Thursday night.  I know, I know, it is sometimes not good for a fan to have a negative/logical attitude towards one’s favorite team.  Yet after 59:00 minutes of game-play, I had simply had enough of the Steelers and their sloppy and undisciplined play.  The kick was a desperate attempt for the team to save themselves, and I had no intention of watching what would be the final nail in the coffin.

Final Thoughts

Is the miss itself on Suisham because he did not make the kick?  Of course it is.  But I have a difficult time placing all of the blame on a guy for his miss when his own Coach unintentionally ICED HIM with a Timeout, then asked of him to achieve something he had yet to do in his first 7 seasons in the League!  For those of you bagging on Suisham without bagging on the Coaching Staff, shame on you!

Regardless of how upset we are as a fanbase though, the Steelers are 2-3, and should be 1-4 had Michael Vick not handed them the game in Week 5.  At this point, all we can hope for is that the Steelers and their Coaching Staff somehow get their collective acts’ together as the schedule gets tougher, and the weather gets colder.  Otherwise, as I have stated before, this will be a 6 to 7 win season for our guys in the Black & Gold.  But stay tuned readers, there could be some more ridiculous late game gambles made over the season’s final 11 games.

Figures and Stats Courtesy of: Pro Football Reference.com

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