Mike Tomlin Defends Questionable Fourth Down Decision


Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

On fourth down and 10, with two of their timeouts in hand, and stranded at their own 10-yard line, the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves in a very perplexing situation.

Down 31-28, they could have elected to punt the ball back to the Miami Dolphins with just over 2:30 left on the clock, and then hunkered down against the run enough to get the ball back only down three points.

That strategy would have been sound, especially since they had three opportunities to stop the clock and would have only needed a field goal to tie the game if they stopped the Dolphins’ offense.

Obviously, Mike Tomlin did not see it that way. In fact, here is what Pittsburgh’s head coach had to say about his ill-fated decision to go for it on fourth down in that crucial moment:

"Obviously, if we were successful then we could continue on. We hadn’t done a great job of stopping him in the second half, so we weren’t ensured of getting the ball back. If you punt there, they have an opportunity to convert on third downs and kill the clock and the game. I thought if we went for it we had an opportunity to continue on. If we didn’t, then whatever was going to happen was going to happen quickly, and we had an opportunity to have the ball at the end which is what we did."

Was it a ballsy move? Heck, yes it was. But it was a fourth and 10 situation, not a fourth and five or less! In addition, move itself made zero sense when one considers that Pittsburgh’s defense could have stopped the clock three times before they could have got the ball back. Worst of all, Tomlin made himself look like a total buffoon when he called a timeout before the fourth down attempt with the clock already stopped.

Captain Obvious apparently wasn’t “confident” with the “communication” made before that final play, so he burned one of Pittsburgh’s valuable timeouts before they even ran it.

Granted, I am not claiming to be an NFL head coach or even have the slightest idea of what type of pressure those guys are under on a weekly basis.

Yet wouldn’t Tomlin or his offensive coaches have a play in mind for that specific situation to run so that timeouts, which were of the utmost importance inside three minutes left in the game, could be spared?

Furthermore, wouldn’t Tomlin or members of his coaching staff have a decision made regarding whether or not punting was an option before the team even took the field on offense before that ill fated series?

Wasting timeouts in those types of situations is ridiculous, and the Steelers sure could have used an extra one later in the game. Time management is of the utmost importance, and Tomlin and the rest of his staff failed in that regard in what proved to be the most critical situation of their 34-28 loss to the Dolphins.

Stats & Contract Info. Provided By: ESPN.comSteelers.com , Spotrac, and Pro Football Reference

Follow on Twitter: @DominicDiTolla and @NicePickCowherC

Like “NPC” on Facebook: Nice Pick, Cowher