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