Let’s Second Guess Mike Tomlin

Last week I questioned Bill Belichick’s decision to throw a Hail Mary at the end of regulation instead of attempting a super long field goal.  Today I was similarly baffled by Pittsburgh Steeler coach Mike Tomlin’s decision to let the clock expire at the end of the first half.
Pittsburgh had a 17-16 lead, and two timeouts, with a third down around the Miami 38 yard line and roughly 30 seconds left.  Ben Roethlesberger got sacked back at the Miami 40 yard line, and Pittsburgh let the clock expire instead of calling a timeout and attempting either a 57 yard field goal or a Hail Mary.
I just don’t understand this.  There is no chance that the field goal attempt is negative expected value.  Jeff Reed’s career long is 51 yards I think, but I’d guess that most NFL kickers will make a 57 yard FG – what – at least 20% of the time?  Readers last week made the comment that a Hail Mary had less potential downside than a long field goal attempt – that argument is more true with a 63 yard FG than a 57 yard FG – but still – why not take another shot at the endzone if you don’t want to kick the FG?

Miami suffered a tough beat at the end of this game when Roethlisberger fumbled on the goal line, but the play was prematurely blown dead and ruled a touchdown before the officials made a ruling about who had recovered the ball.  Miami challenged the play, and the review showed that Roethlisberger did indeed fumble the ball before crossing the goal line, but there was not conclusive evidence of who recovered the ball, so by rule Pittsburgh keeps the ball on the half yard line – where they promptly kicked the game winning field goal.


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