Just one week after letting his offense go for four two-point conversions that ultimately all failed in the loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin remained aggressive in his decision-making in Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns.
With five seconds left in the first half and the ball at the Browns 3-yard-line, Tomlin kept the offense on the field in lieu of kicking a field goal that would have put the Steelers ahead 9-0.
Initially, it looked like Tomlin’s decision to go for a touchdown had backfired when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger failed to connect with wide receiver Antonio Brown in the end zone.
However, a defensive holding penalty was called on Browns cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun on the play and the Steelers were given an untimed down.
Tomlin again decided to let his offense stay on the field for the extra play and once again it looked as if his gamble would result in no points as Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Brown in the end zone a second time. This time, however, Browns cornerback Joe Haden was penalized for pass interference on Brown and the Steelers were issued yet another untimed down as a result.
Tomlin would not yield to conventional wisdom yet again, however, and the Steelers offense stayed on the field. This time the outcome was a favorable one as Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell got into the end zone for a touchdown on a one-yard run off left guard.
If that’s not enough, Tomlin decided to let the offense go for two after the touchdown and that decision payed off as well as Roethlisberger completed a pass to tight end David Johnson to give the Steelers a 14-0 lead at halftime.
After the game was over, Tomlin was asked about his decision to keep the offense on the field to close out the first half.
“We’re comfortable with being aggressive in that area of the field, whether it’s going for a touchdown, or as what you might describe as two-point play attempts,” Tomlin said. “We get a lot of work in that area of the field. We’re confident in our play selection and the guys’ ability to execute, so we did.”
Tomlin was then asked if the fact that his team was going to get the football first in the second half played into his decision-making process.
“No,” Tomlin said.
Even if you didn’t like Tomlin’s decision at the end of the first half, you have to hand it to him when it comes to him consistently being aggressive in situations where most other NFL head coaches probably wouldn’t. Had the Steelers offense failed to score in that situation, it could have been a huge blow. This time it worked out in Tomlin’s favor.
Personally, I would have kicked the field goal with five seconds left to go up 9-0. Would you have made the same decision?