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Why the Fake Was a Mistake

Calls like the one Mike Tomlin made in the fourth quarter of yesterday’s win over the New York Giants are the type that make sports talk radio thrive. Of course there will be thousands of people who’ll say they loved the call and thousands more who will say they hated the call and many who won’t offer an opinion simply because the Steelers went onto win anyway.

Here’s the right call; It was wrong and for a number of reasons but Mike Tomlin was bailed out by his players and he admitted as much in his post-game comments. As I watched the play unfold, I immediately thought that Tomlin had been watching way too much of LSU Head Coach Les Miles and his ‘Mad Hatter’ style of coaching. That immediately subsided and gave way to anger as Shaun Suisham was buried into the MetLife Stadium turf.

The call was wrong because of the situation… The Steelers had rallied to cut the deficit to three and had all the momentum in the world. The previous play-call on third and short left much to be desired. Why not pound the ball with Isaac Redman on third and fourth down if you’re going to go on fourth?

The call was wrong because of the “percentages”… The field goal attempt amounted to an extra point try. The league says that extra points are successful approximately 98% of the time. Have you watched teams on defense actually attempting to block extra points? Usually the three down-lineman and a linebacker will get some push while the rest of the team simply catches a breather and watches the ball sail through the uprights. This is where many of you start screaming “we blocked one last week!!” And where did the block come from? The middle. Even Washington kicker Kai Forbath said he pretty much kicked a line-drive.

My point is that the defenders on the edges and deep behind the line of scrimmage will look for the fake on any field goal of such a short variety simply because the chances of blocking it are so slim. Kickers today are more accurate and have stronger legs than ever before. There was simply no reason for the Giants to be doing anything else but look for a fake.

The call was wrong because of personnel… So you’re telling me that Shaun Suisham is the best choice to gain a first down by rushing the football? I know, I know, it’s all about the surprise factor. There is no surprise when you fake it on a 20-yard field goal attempt! Isaac Redman twice trying for a yard and a half isn’t a better scenario than Shaun Suisham? Yikes. Sometimes coaches can over-think themselves and the situation and this was the case here for the Steelers’ head coach.

Tomlin’s plan also involved the defense which had limited the Giants to nearly nothing offensively and Tomlin gambled that they could force the Giants to punt from deep in their territory and the gamble paid off. We can credit Tomlin for his confidence in Dick LeBeau’s unit, but the call was still questionable and had the Steelers lost the game, it would have been topic number one on sports talk radio today. And a blog or two as well.

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4 comments

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  1. Marc Uhlmann

    I certainly have problems with the way Tomlin manages a game and his less than informative press conferences, but I think the guy has done a pretty good job in many other areas. As for the fake, you know my feelings on it so I agree 100% with you there. Thanks for reading.

  2. J

    Tomlin’s generally too busy perusing his thesarus for the next 50 cent word he can work into his post game press conf.. The play call was beyond stupid. Nobody’s even discussing the fact that having the holder basically flip the ball blindly over his shoulder is about as back-yard risky as it gets. The team wins in SPITE of Tomlin, not because of him.

  3. Marc Uhlmann

    I agree that Tomlin is a very average and even poor game-manager. I liked Whiz a lot but I think Tomlin does a lot of other things very well. Definitely needs to make better decisions in game management and he can start with letting Ben run the offense at the end of the half and other such situations.

  4. Randy

    Is it just me or is Mike Tomlin an awful game coach? I don’t coach for a living, but have coached a variety of sports at amateur levels. I find myself second-guessing many of his calls and the teams’ horrible clock management. I think the Steelers would have been far better to have kept Wisenhunt.

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