PITTSBURGH — Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has come under plenty of criticism over the year for his in-game decision-making over the years, and one of his choices late in the Steelers’ 27-16 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders certainly drew some second-guessing, perhaps even from the Pittsburgh sideline.
With the Steelers facing a 4th and 1 in their own territory and trailing by two scores with 8:36 to play, Tomlin elected to punt the ball away and trust his defense instead of trying to pick up the yard.
The Steelers’ defense held, stopping the Raiders after four plays, but the exchange cost the Steelers 2:31 and a timeout.
After Pittsburgh scored on a 56-yard Chris Boswell field goal to get back to within one possession, the Steelers defense couldn’t hold a second time, and gave up a field goal to seal the outcome while running out the clock.
Tomlin seemed satisfied that his defense got the ball back in relatively short order after the punt, even if in the end, things didn’t work out for his team.
“I felt comfortable with our ability to stop them,” Tomlin said. “I wanted to play the field position game and I think we punted it and stopped them.”
It’s impossible to say how the game would have played out if the Steelers had those two extra minutes and timeout to work with.
But there’s at least one important member of the Black and Gold that sure seemed to want to go for it. Ben Roethlisberger was asked if he felt that he could go to Tomlin and say he wanted to go for it.
“Not when the punt team is running on the field,” Roethlisberger responded. “I’m standing there. I don’t have a choice.”
When directly asked if he wanted to go for it, Roethlisberger just smiled.