The Pittsburgh Steelers lost against the New England Patriots because they threw a goal line interception on a slant in the middle of a bunch of traffic. Anyone that saw the Patriots’ finish against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX could have told Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley that was a bad play call, and they’d be right.
They might be surprised to find out that the Steelers only landed on that play thanks to a last-minute decision by a coaching staff unprepared to make a call. In NFL Turning Point, we can see Tomlin and Haley without a play call just seconds prior to the interception.
You can watch the full segment here, or watch the Steelers-centric clip below:
This, from NFL Turning Point, is fascinating. The final two plays of Pats-Steelers from Mike Tomlin’s perspective. pic.twitter.com/w69zP7hjmY— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) December 21, 2017
“This is second down,” Tomlin said to Haley. “We got no timeouts. If it’s in the field of play, we got to play. You follow me? You got me?”
Haley settled on spiking the ball, or “clocking” the ball to save time and set up a fourth down field goal attempt. Tomlin disagreed.
“It’s in the field of play,” Tomlin shouted after the second-down play. “Give him a call. Not clock, not clock. Give him a play. We can’t clock it. Give him a play, we’re not clocking it.”
After the game, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he was going to clock the ball “to get one play,” but clocking the ball would’ve brought on fourth down and meant that Pittsburgh was either going to try and go for the win on fourth down, or kick a field goal for overtime.
Tomlin wanted a third down play lined up to give the Steelers an extra chance to score and that was the correct decision. A team like the Patriots would have had their second and third down plays already decided prior to snapping the second down play, especially if time was of the essence.
Instead, the Steelers put together a hastily drawn up opportunity that resulting in an interception by Patriots safety Duron Harmon.
“It just helps you appreciate what you have here,” Harmon said about the preparation work done in New England. “Our coaching staff, the amount of work they put in, how they grind to make sure that we're prepared each and every week. It really just helps you appreciate it; appreciate the work that they do so that we're prepared each and every week.”
This was not a good look for the Pittsburgh coaching staff.