As bad as the Pittsburgh Steelers defense played Sunday in their 27-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their offense still had a chance to put away the game. However, instead of giving quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a chance to win the game on one play, the coaching staff decided they would play it safe.
Backed up just inside their own 20-yard-line, the Steelers offense faced a third down and five with 1:35 left in regulation and they chose to run against a Buccaneers defense that had six men in the box and was playing press coverage against 11 personnel with tight end Heath Miller detached from the line of scrimmage.
Le’Veon Bell‘s subsequent run resulted in a two-yard loss and the Steelers were forced to punt and hope that their defense could hold the lead.
Prior to Bell’s final run, the Buccaneers had burned their final timeout and Roethlisberger wasn’t even summoned to the Steelers sideline to discuss a few options. That, in my opinion, was a huge mistake. You have 30 seconds, so why not talk a few things over.
Sure, I understand that an incomplete pass on third down would’ve stopped the clock, but surely they have a high percentage play that they could have gone to with a built in audible. Besides, it’s not like the Steelers defense has been dependable when it comes to registering one final stop for some time now.
Mike Tomlin and company need to stop trusting the defense late in games and instead start trusting the offense. The same offense that up until their final offensive play was 6-of-13 converting third downs in the game.