Saturday, January 07, 2012

#237: Rolling the Dice

---SSL Broadcast #75---

Coaching hindsight is generally 20/20.  Sports fans inevitably believe they have this power in advance.

Case in point, last Sunday in Cleveland, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin goes off script a bit and elects to decline a holding penalty after a 3rd and 10 play for the Browns. They were in long field goal range, but with a trecherous lake wind reportedly "at their backs."

Cleveland ends up nailing the 49-yarder to trim Pittsburgh's lead to 13-9.

Conventional wisdom says that you back a team, any team, out of field goal range if you are able. But if so-called "conventional wisdom" dictated everything, teams wouldn't really need coaches.

The short: if Phil Dawson misses the kick, the Steelers start at their own 39 yard line. If they decline the penalty, there's a fair possibility that Cleveland makes that yardage back, anyway, perhaps more than enough for a first down allowing the drive to continue. Again, if the long field goal (which wasn't a gimme for anyone), Tomlin looks like a genius.

The hindsight experts will tell you that the assessed penalty would have resulted in a punt preserving a full touchdown lead. They'll omit that the punt could have pinned the Steelers inside the 10 (as easily as it could have rolled for a touchback) and perhaps resulted in a pick-6/fumble/safety.

The very short: Tomlin rolled the dice and lost.

If Steeler fans want to take issue with Tomlin, how about leaving defensive starters in for the final plays after the final score came down from Cincinnati that the game was no longer relavent.

Now that it's the playoffs, the opposition will be better, so rolling the dice on the road against anyone they face should not be an option unless the straits are dire. This week, Tomlin will need to heed "conventional wisdom," else the Steelers road trip will come to a premature end.

On today's show:

- Quick breakdown and picks for NFL's Wild Card Weekend.

- Fleury letting Pens down.

- Both Pitt Panthers teams' seasons may be over very soon.

- Deja vu. 1-1 again on my NFL Picks (16-17-1 overall for the regular season).



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