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Tomlin Should Have Shown Confidence In His Defense Instead Of His Kicker


The Pittsburgh Steelers defense played a great game Sunday in the 13-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals as they allowed just two field goals in the game. The eventually game winning kick by Bengals kicker Josh Brown came on the second play following the interception thrown by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but it could have come a series earlier no thanks to the decision made by head coach Mike Tomlin to allow kicker Shaun Suisham to attempt a 53-yard field goal with 1:51 left in regulation.

Had Suisham made that kick it would have been the longest in the history of Heinz Field and just the 6th one made of 50 yards or longer since the Steelers started playing there back in 2001. It also would have been a career long for Suisham.

Taking all of that into the account and watching Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis stupidly decide to let Brown attempt a 56 yard field goal just the series before, it makes you wonder why Tomlin would go against the percentages in that situation. Way against them at that.

Tomlin was asked after the game during his post game press conference if he thought about punting in that situation rather than attempting the field goal.

“No,” said Tomlin. “We’ve got a great deal of confidence in Shaun and rightfully so. We wanted to give him an opportunity to do the job.”

While I respect the fact that Tomlin wanted to “show confidence” in Suisham, he also was setting him up to fail. Somebody has these numbers for him at the drop of a hat, right? Your season is on the line – your defense is playing great – and yet you choose to send out your kicker to attempt a career long in your own stadium that is known for not allowing 50 plus yard field goals? That just doesn\’t add up.

The Steelers have struggled with field position all season and the right call here would have been to try and take a delay of game penalty and punt. If the penalty is declined then just hang a punt high and hope that it doesn\’t bounce into the end zone for a touchback. If a touchback was the worst case scenario, at least you have somewhat flipped the field and your defense has an excellent opportunity of getting another stop.

Instead, Tomlin put his defense in a position where just one explosive play or pass interference call could have cost them the game. Sure, he got away with it, but he also paid the price by having the field flipped on him after the defense bailed him out. Three plays later came the Roethlisberger interception and the defense couldn\’t bail them out two times in a row.

Tomlin has made quite a few blunders this season and hopefully he will learn from this one. He should of showed confidence in his defense late in the game and not his kicker. Especially when there was no justified reason to show him that confidence.

Field Goals Made 50 Yards Or Longer In History Of Heinz Field

DATE TEAM OPP KICKER YDS
12/3/2006 Steelers Buccaneers Jeff Reed 52
9/23/2007 49ers Steelers Joe Nedney 50
9/12/2010 Steelers Falcons Jeff Reed 52
11/6/2011 Ravens Steelers Billy Cundiff 51
12/9/2012 Chargers Steelers Nick Novak 51

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Chris S

    Or on the short FG they could have just had a good snap/hold and we probably wouldn’t be talking about this long FG. Coulda, woulda, shoulda!

  • JT

    Or he showed faith in his defense to stop the Bengals if they miss. It goes both ways.

  • SteelersDepot

    You are ignoring the fact that he could have flipped the field.

  • SteelersDepot

    What does that have to do with the other?

  • JT

    That’s true and fine. But that has nothing to do with having confidence in his D.

  • SteelersDepot

    Sure it does. Faith they will keep the field flipped. How is that hard to understand?

  • JT

    I understand it. But you make it seem like he had no other choice. Why is it such a risk? I’m not saying he’s right. But why not let Sushi try if trusts the D to hold? Sushi was very close. It’s not AS bad as trying 56.

  • Mike Carroll

    Agree completely. Tomlin already saw first hand in Tennessee that Suisham doesn’t have the leg for that kick. Why would he have it now on a cold day in December?

    I suppose Tomlin has to say what he did in the press conference. His other choices would be to say he didn’t know Suisham’s limit, or that he was just wishing for a gust of wind to give the kick an extra boost.

    This was a field position game the whole way. And it would have been nice if Tomlin had coached with that in mind for the last 2 minutes. The decision to try to score your from own 10 yd line with less than a minute to go, was just as bad in my opinion, given the nature of the game to that point.

  • JT

    To me, it’s a matter of misplaced trust that Ben didn’t need a flipped field.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Attempting that long FG was too shakey, but Steelers woulda blown the punt anyway. Tomlin saw our punter stinks, plus our punt coverage guys cant stop any punt from bouncing into endzone, or wuld let PacMan again return a punt for a long distance return. PacMan almost returned our 1st punt for a TD early in that game.

    So a punt wulda probly given Bengals the ball at their 20 yard line. Bengals wulda passed the ball enough times to score anyway.

    Right after Ben threw his last INT, Andy Dalton then completed a 20 yard pass to AJGreen like that was AUTOMATIC against our defense, then simply trotted out their kicker for the game winning kick, game over.

  • Sven_Hunkstrom

    From a win probability standpoint the smart play was to go for it. Enhanced even by the futility of the punter and the fact everyone knew Suisham didn’t have the leg for that kick.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Plain and simple is that Suisham has never made a FG that long in his career and he wasnt going to today in a tough Steeler stadium to make FG’s…it was a automatic miss. You punt the ball and hope your defense which was playing well can get a 3 and out and get the ball back at around the 40.

  • SteelSpine

    Well put, no other explaination neeed.

  • SteelSpine

    I know that same happened in a previous game this year, I forget which game where Tomlin & whoever our special teams coach didnt know their kicker so a kick fell short. Altho Tomlin didnt make us lose this game, this was another game he coached below-average for a HC.

    I dont think Tomlin’s an awful HC but he’s becoming known for his mistakes during in-games & during what was supposed to be preparation in offseason, Tomlin is now in the overrated HC category. Not awful, just now overrated. No Tomlin didnt cause any of our injuries. But last offseason he was part of really bad preparation for this season, which included assumed before offseason began that Chris Carter & Mundy could start just because they knew the system, & that ignored their previous lack of playmaking when they had been on the field, even tho everyone knew Harrison & Troy would not be healthy this year. His last SB appearance any SB is an achievement to get that far, but that one included obvious awful lack of preparation for that SB against Packers. Now 2 SB wins carries a HC for subsequent handful of years no-matter-what, lets hope we dont have to find out how many years after that will Steeler fans tolerate a HC riding previous SBs.

  • zyzak

    Cincy coach wanted to give the Steelers the game but Tomlin said no thank you. Colossal failure of a season. There are so many reasons they sucked this year but Tomlin is the one to blame

  • Buccos9

    I respected Marvin Lewis for manning up and admitting after the game that he screwed up with game management near the end of the game. I have NO respect for Mike Tomlin continually trying to paper over his game management screw-ups with his coach speak babble.. He had confidence that Suisham could make a kick that long at Heinz field? Based on what? Where is his own accountability?

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