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fordfixer
12-22-2009, 02:48 AM
Unlike Belichick, Tomlin let off hook
Questionable move by Steelers coach escapes scrutiny of 'fourth-and-2'

Reiss By Mike Reiss
ESPNBoston.com
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http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nfl/co ... id=4763584 (http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nfl/columns/story?columnist=reiss_mike&id=4763584)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Where's the outrage? Where are the critics screaming arrogance on the part of the head coach, or that he'd lost his football mind?

Those questions arose when recapping the unexpected turn of events in Pittsburgh on Sunday, when the Steelers had their version of "fourth-and-2."

"Fourth-and-2," of course, needs no explanation to Patriots followers. It was the decision that coach Bill Belichick was vilified for in many circles -- going for it from the Patriots' own 28-yard line with 2:08 left against the Colts while holding a 34-28 lead.

Belichick didn't say it directly that November day, but he obviously felt his defense was cooked.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had the same thing on his mind when he called for an onside kick with 3:58 to play in Sunday's game against the Packers. The Steelers had just taken a 30-28 lead.

"We were just trying to win the football game," Tomlin explained after the contest. "There was time left in that game that had we kicked that ball away and the half had gone the way it had gone they would have moved the ball down the field on us [and] we wouldn't have had necessary time to respond. I'm just being honest, but it starts with feeling pretty good about the element of surprise and having a good chance to get that ball, but that part of it didn't work out."

It didn't work out because Ike Taylor was penalized for illegal touching, and six plays later, the Packers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:06 remaining. At that point, Tomlin looked like he was going to find himself in the crosshairs of some intense scrutiny.

Yet he hasn't taken anywhere close to the same heat as Belichick, in part because the Steelers dramatically came back to win the game with no time left on the clock on an improbable play. Was the win because of the onside kick or in spite of it?

That seemed like a fair question to debate, but one thing that isn't debatable is that Tomlin made the same sort of bold, unconventional decision as Belichick did on fourth-and-2. The main difference was the end result, even if it didn't unfold exactly as planned.

So does that make Tomlin arrogant? Is it fair to suggest that Tomlin thinks he's somehow above the game, or that he had a brain freeze?

Of course not, but that's what some were saying about Belichick. "Fourth-and-2" lived on for days, with seemingly every NFL precinct checking in to voice an opinion. A Google search on "Belichick, fourth down" turned up 257,000 hits today. On the other hand, a search for "Tomlin, onside kick" resulted in 15,400 hits.

Part of it, it seems, is that Belichick has few friends in the media and this was an opening for many to take some long-awaited uppercuts. Another part of it is the Tom Brady theory that tall trees often face the highest winds, as few have a loftier perch in the coaching profession than Belichick, not to mention that the Patriots have three Super Bowl titles this decade and have been an annual contender.

Surely, Belichick brings some of the scrutiny on himself with the way he often answers questions. After "fourth-and-2," for example, he didn't say he was protecting his defense, as Tomlin did, so it left much open to interpretation, which only seemed to fuel the feeding frenzy.

Maybe if Belichick answered in the same manner as Tomlin, "fourth-and-2" wouldn't have taken on a life of its own.

"I'll be very bluntly honest with you," Tomlin said Sunday. "Based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise we had a chance to get it, but if we didn't get it and they were to score, then we would have necessary time on the clock to score or match their score.

Patriots blog

Reiss ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss covers the New England Patriots in his blog. You can send questions and comments to his mailbag.

ESPNBoston.com

"Plan A didn't work, but it kind of unfolded the way you envisioned it. We had 30 minutes of evidence that we could drive the ball on them. We also conversely had 30 minutes of evidence to show they could also drive the ball on us. That's why we took the risk when we did."

From this view, Belichick's fourth-and-2 risk was not worth taking, as punting still seemed like the right call. Simply debating the merits of such decisions is part what makes following the game enjoyable.

But what became clear this week -- with Tomlin's unconventional decision and even Titans coach Jeff Fisher going off the board by not using any of his remaining three timeouts late in a tie game when the Dolphins were pinned at their 6-yard line -- is that the furor surrounding "fourth-and-2" went way beyond that.

Although the unconventional decisions weren't exactly the same -- and Belichick's didn't work out and Tomlin's did (sort of) -- the dramatic difference in the immediate fallout from both was noticeable.

For that, we ask the question again: Where's the outrage?

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Slapstick
12-22-2009, 08:14 AM
Reiss kind of answers his own question...

Q: Why was Belichick villified by the media?

A: Because he is a dishonest, cheating douchebag.

Q: Why was Tomlin let off the hook?

A: Because he is not a dishonest, cheating douchebag.

Also, the Steelers were able to overcome their miscue, the Patriots were not. Winning games buys a lot of forgiveness...that's why Patriots fans are cool with Belichick cheating....

SanAntonioSteelerFan
12-22-2009, 08:15 AM
This guy's just another Boston D-Bag. He writes this long article questioning why everybody got down on Belichek for going for it on 4th and 2 from their own 28, but aren't crucifying Tomlin for his call the other nght.

He comes up with all these possible reasons, except the real one - everyone hates Belichek and his team BECAUSE THEY SYSTEMATICALLY CHEATED FOR YEARS .

The article gives good insight into how the people from Boston apparently are able to pretend that never happened.

What a bunch of maroons.

Slapstick
12-22-2009, 08:17 AM
By the way, I just sent that to Mike Reiss...

stlrz d
12-22-2009, 09:44 AM
Let off the hook? Every talking head is going on and on about what a "bad" decision it was.

Tomlin knew what he was doing and the final result proved him to be correct. He gave his franchise QB enough time to win the game.

frankthetank1
12-22-2009, 09:47 AM
the funny thing to me is how was it such a "bad decision" the steelers won the game and barely had enough time for the final drive. if they had kicked off to the packers the packers would of used more clock

proudpittsburgher
12-22-2009, 10:11 AM
funniest part is that the writer thinks Bellicheck was just called arrogant because of the call. He has been an arrogent d-bag for years. Not to mention the fact that it is called a suprise onside for a reason . . . it was a suprise and it worked. The Colts were prepared for the Pats* to go for it on fourth down. Much less of a calculated risk. 10 yards further down the field and less risk because they didn't know it was cming. Were both out of desperation? Sure they were, but the percentages were much more in favor of the Steelers than they were the Pats*

papillon
12-22-2009, 11:08 AM
Let off the hook? Every talking head is going on and on about what a "bad" decision it was.

Tomlin knew what he was doing and the final result proved him to be correct. He gave his franchise QB enough time to win the game.

He gave the Steelers two options to win the game. One by recovering the onside kick, that option failed. Two by giving the Packers a short field, using his timeouts and conserving time for an extremely hot quarterback, this option worked perfectly.

Had the Steelers kicked the ball deep, the Steelers only option to win would have been a defensive stop. That would have been a more riskier option on this day when the defense was getting toasted like Christmas Chestnuts by Aaron Rodgers.

The talking heads are all wrong on this one and not seeing it is simply ignoring what was happening in the game. The 4th quarter was a track meet and it wasn't stopping until the clock hit zeroes.

Pappy

Northern_Blitz
12-22-2009, 11:24 AM
I think both calls were correct.

Both teams have excellent QBs. Both teams have inconsistant defences that wern't playing well at the time of the calls. You try to give it to your $100 M dollar men to win the games.

It worked for one team, it didn't for the other. In real life fans and analists complain less when you win. Knowing the result after the fact doesn't change whether the call was right or wrong.

NWNewell
12-22-2009, 11:26 AM
Let off the hook? Every talking head is going on and on about what a "bad" decision it was.

Tomlin knew what he was doing and the final result proved him to be correct. He gave his franchise QB enough time to win the game.

He gave the Steelers two options to win the game. One by recovering the onside kick, that option failed. Two by giving the Packers a short field, using his timeouts and conserving time for an extremely hot quarterback, this option worked perfectly.

The talking heads are all wrong on this one and not seeing it is simply ignoring what was happening in the game. The 4th quarter was a track meet and it wasn't stopping until the clock hit zeroes.

Pappy

3 options:

Steelers defense could have held them to 3 & out and made them attempt a 50+ yard FG in December at Hinez Field.

Granted, I think that was a very unlikely outcome, but still possible.

papillon
12-22-2009, 11:29 AM
Let off the hook? Every talking head is going on and on about what a "bad" decision it was.

Tomlin knew what he was doing and the final result proved him to be correct. He gave his franchise QB enough time to win the game.

He gave the Steelers two options to win the game. One by recovering the onside kick, that option failed. Two by giving the Packers a short field, using his timeouts and conserving time for an extremely hot quarterback, this option worked perfectly.

The talking heads are all wrong on this one and not seeing it is simply ignoring what was happening in the game. The 4th quarter was a track meet and it wasn't stopping until the clock hit zeroes.

Pappy

3 options:

Steelers defense could have held them to 3 & out and made them attempt a 50+ yard FG in December at Hinez Field.

Granted, I think that was a very unlikely outcome, but still possible.

True, very true, no one is really seeing the beauty of this decision. I still find it interesting that Ike Taylor is on the "hands" team. :wft

Pappy

NWNewell
12-22-2009, 11:50 AM
Let off the hook? Every talking head is going on and on about what a "bad" decision it was.

Tomlin knew what he was doing and the final result proved him to be correct. He gave his franchise QB enough time to win the game.

He gave the Steelers two options to win the game. One by recovering the onside kick, that option failed. Two by giving the Packers a short field, using his timeouts and conserving time for an extremely hot quarterback, this option worked perfectly.

The talking heads are all wrong on this one and not seeing it is simply ignoring what was happening in the game. The 4th quarter was a track meet and it wasn't stopping until the clock hit zeroes.

Pappy

3 options:

Steelers defense could have held them to 3 & out and made them attempt a 50+ yard FG in December at Hinez Field.

Granted, I think that was a very unlikely outcome, but still possible.

True, very true, no one is really seeing the beauty of this decision. I still find it interesting that Ike Taylor is on the "hands" team. :wft

Pappy

Because it wasn't the hands team. It was the kickoff coverage team. That's what helps with the element of surprise.

If they had a hands team in there, GB probably sees it coming and our chance of recover goes way, way down.

Saw a stat that 20% of normal onside kicks are recovered, but, incredibly, 60% of surprise onside kicks are recovered.

I loved the call, not at first, but after thinking about it. Even if we only recover 50% because our special teams is sub-par, if Tomlin feels that GB is going to drive the length of the field and score on our defense 50% of the time, then it's already a wash.

And of the other 50% of the time, if we can get the ball back and make a game winning drive even 5% of the time, that would we would have a 52.5% chance to win with the onside kick (50% recovered + 50% x 5% of successful counter punch) versus only winning 50% of the time that the defense prevents GB from driving the length of the field.

In the midst of the game, to evaluate the situation and have the guts to make the call, it was a great move, regardless of the out come.

Similarly, while most would disagree, I think Belichick made a good call too on that 4th & 2 if he made a similar assessment on his defense.

papillon
12-22-2009, 12:10 PM
Let off the hook? Every talking head is going on and on about what a "bad" decision it was.

Tomlin knew what he was doing and the final result proved him to be correct. He gave his franchise QB enough time to win the game.

He gave the Steelers two options to win the game. One by recovering the onside kick, that option failed. Two by giving the Packers a short field, using his timeouts and conserving time for an extremely hot quarterback, this option worked perfectly.

The talking heads are all wrong on this one and not seeing it is simply ignoring what was happening in the game. The 4th quarter was a track meet and it wasn't stopping until the clock hit zeroes.

Pappy

3 options:

Steelers defense could have held them to 3 & out and made them attempt a 50+ yard FG in December at Hinez Field.

Granted, I think that was a very unlikely outcome, but still possible.

True, very true, no one is really seeing the beauty of this decision. I still find it interesting that Ike Taylor is on the "hands" team. :wft

Pappy

Because it wasn't the hands team. It was the kickoff coverage team. That's what helps with the element of surprise.

If they had a hands team in there, GB probably sees it coming and our chance of recover goes way, way down.

Saw a stat that 20% of normal onside kicks are recovered, but, incredibly, 60% of surprise onside kicks are recovered.

I loved the call, not at first, but after thinking about it. Even if we only recover 50% because our special teams is sub-par, if Tomlin feels that GB is going to drive the length of the field and score on our defense 50% of the time, then it's already a wash.

And of the other 50% of the time, if we can get the ball back and make a game winning drive even 5% of the time, that would we would have a 52.5% chance to win with the onside kick (50% recovered + 50% x 5% of successful counter punch) versus only winning 50% of the time that the defense prevents GB from driving the length of the field.

In the midst of the game, to evaluate the situation and have the guts to make the call, it was a great move, regardless of the out come.

Similarly, while most would disagree, I think Belichick made a good call too on that 4th & 2 if he made a similar assessment on his defense.

I'm with you about Belicheck, he made a decision that he believed gave his team the best opportunity to win. It's playing to win, rather than playing not to lose and I prefer playing to win all day, every day. It's what many believed Bill Cowher didn't do, that he played not to lose, but it worked for him. Bill Cowher's teams only surrendered a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter 1 time in about 100 tries. He played not to lose and won nearly all of them, can't argue with success.

Tomlin played to win and I'll take that any day of the week. The defense may have their egos bruised a bit, but, if they look at it objectively, I don't think they can complain at all.

Pappy

NWNewell
12-22-2009, 12:16 PM
He gave the Steelers two options to win the game. One by recovering the onside kick, that option failed. Two by giving the Packers a short field, using his timeouts and conserving time for an extremely hot quarterback, this option worked perfectly.

The talking heads are all wrong on this one and not seeing it is simply ignoring what was happening in the game. The 4th quarter was a track meet and it wasn't stopping until the clock hit zeroes.

Pappy


3 options:

Steelers defense could have held them to 3 & out and made them attempt a 50+ yard FG in December at Hinez Field.

Granted, I think that was a very unlikely outcome, but still possible.

True, very true, no one is really seeing the beauty of this decision. I still find it interesting that Ike Taylor is on the "hands" team. :wft

Pappy

Because it wasn't the hands team. It was the kickoff coverage team. That's what helps with the element of surprise.

If they had a hands team in there, GB probably sees it coming and our chance of recover goes way, way down.

Saw a stat that 20% of normal onside kicks are recovered, but, incredibly, 60% of surprise onside kicks are recovered.

I loved the call, not at first, but after thinking about it. Even if we only recover 50% because our special teams is sub-par, if Tomlin feels that GB is going to drive the length of the field and score on our defense 50% of the time, then it's already a wash.

And of the other 50% of the time, if we can get the ball back and make a game winning drive even 5% of the time, that would we would have a 52.5% chance to win with the onside kick (50% recovered + 50% x 5% of successful counter punch) versus only winning 50% of the time that the defense prevents GB from driving the length of the field.

In the midst of the game, to evaluate the situation and have the guts to make the call, it was a great move, regardless of the out come.

Similarly, while most would disagree, I think Belichick made a good call too on that 4th & 2 if he made a similar assessment on his defense.

I'm with you about Belicheck, he made a decision that he believed gave his team the best opportunity to win. It's playing to win, rather than playing not to lose and I prefer playing to win all day, every day. It's what many believed Bill Cowher didn't do, that he played not to lose, but it worked for him. Bill Cowher's teams only surrendered a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter 1 time in about 100 tries. He played not to lose and won nearly all of them, can't argue with success.

Tomlin played to win and I'll take that any day of the week. The defense may have their egos bruised a bit, but, if they look at it objectively, I don't think they can complain at all.

Pappy

I don't know that I agree with all the playing not to lose vs playing to win comments. You are always playing and making decisions that feel give you the best opportunity to win.

With the way Cower's Teams typically played, they should definitely kick and play defense, grind out the clock.

Heck, if this was last year, they way our defense played and closed games, I'd say we should kick and that would give use the best opportunity to win the game.

But the way the defense has been playing this year and the way the defense and offense were playing in that game, kicking and playing defense would not have given use the best opportunity to win.

SteelAbility
12-22-2009, 03:46 PM
Let off the hook? Every talking head is going on and on about what a "bad" decision it was.

Tomlin knew what he was doing and the final result proved him to be correct. He gave his franchise QB enough time to win the game.

He gave the Steelers two options to win the game. One by recovering the onside kick, that option failed. Two by giving the Packers a short field, using his timeouts and conserving time for an extremely hot quarterback, this option worked perfectly.

The talking heads are all wrong on this one and not seeing it is simply ignoring what was happening in the game. The 4th quarter was a track meet and it wasn't stopping until the clock hit zeroes.

Pappy

3 options:

Steelers defense could have held them to 3 & out and made them attempt a 50+ yard FG in December at Hinez Field.

Granted, I think that was a very unlikely outcome, but still possible.

True, very true, no one is really seeing the beauty of this decision. I still find it interesting that Ike Taylor is on the "hands" team. :wft

Pappy

Taylor has great hands. It's his eyes that are the problem. :shock: :mrgreen:

SteelAbility
12-22-2009, 03:50 PM
The onside kick decision was great. But now that the "cat's out of the bag" Tomlin is going to have to come up with some more creative strategy if a similar situation arises in our next two games. Personally, the thought of the combo of Ray Rice and some of the tackling angles our D has been taking makes me shudder and makes me feel like the Ravens can take the ball down the field quickly on any offensive series.

feltdizz
12-22-2009, 04:26 PM
Tomlin's call = desperation

The cheats call = arrogance

cruzer8
12-22-2009, 05:14 PM
Tomlin's call = desperation

The cheats call = arrogance

Tomlin's call was calculated to give the team different options. It wasn't desperation.

feltdizz
12-22-2009, 06:21 PM
Tomlin's call = desperation

The cheats call = arrogance

Tomlin's call was calculated to give the team different options. It wasn't desperation.

even if it's calculated its desperation... and there were 2 options.. recover or don't recover.