Tag Archive | "Mike Tomlin"

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Tomlin Aftermath Getting Carried Away

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

 

I get that as a Ravens fan I’m supposed to hate all things Pittsburgh. I get that I’m supposed to see the black and yellow as something sinister, and that I am supposed to celebrate any hardship that should fall the Steelers way. That said, the talk of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin as a diabolical genius whose actions should merit a suspension or loss of draft picks is kind of lost on me.

 

Maybe it’s because the Ravens won the game, but I have a hard time feeling like what happened between Mike Tomlin and Jacoby Jones on Thursday night is anything more than a humorous aside and an interesting chapter in what was otherwise a classic renewal of the NFL’s best rivalry.

Yes Tomlin deserves to be punished…and certainly he will be. But this isn’t Spy-gate or Bounty-gate or any other gate for that matter. At worst – at absolute worst – it was an ill-conceived, spur of the moment reaction worthy of punishment. At best (and more likely in my opinion) it’s a strange, unusual, and rather fortunate happenstance for the Steelers, still worthy of punishment, in a game that they ultimately lost anyway.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on what they saw on Thursday, but if this was the diabolical scheme that many have made it out to be, Tomlin is as prescient and calculated as his team was out of sorts and bumbling on that play. It’s impossible for me to believe that Tomlin intentionally turned his back to the field for when (or if just in case) his team let Jones slip past their kick coverage, yet somehow funneled him precisely to the coach’s location. It’s impossible to fathom, in real time, that Tomlin spotted a spontaneous opportunity unfolding right behind him and cooked up a scheme, not to stop or run into Jones, but to slow him up just enough to be caught by the tackler in pursuit. It sure looks dubious in slow motion, but the play didn’t happen in slow motion, it happened in the blink of an eye.

Intent should have no bearing on punishment, and there will be punishment. But suspensions and losses of draft picks have been reserved for those teams and coaches that intentionally and premeditatedly tried to cheat the system. They have also been levied in cases where there was no precedent, or specific line of punishment prescribed beforehand. What happened on Thursday was neither of those things.

While there may be no better (or more effective) example of interference coming from the sideline in an NFL game, there have been similar incidents; and there are rules to govern these incidents. As Ravens fans we all learned these rules when Joe Flacco made the suggestion during the Super Bowl that if Ted Ginn were to break free on the game’s final kickoff that someone come off the sideline and make the tackle. In such situations, an official can award the touchdown if he feels it’s merited.

Whether or not Jones could have scored if not for Tomlin’s interference isn’t even clear in this situation, but should have been left up to the discretion of the officials. Of course in order to make such a decision, an official would have actually had to throw a flag, and on Thursday none did. That’s the bigger problem as far as the NFL is concerned, that an official was in position not only to make the call, but to have to make the call (Tomlin at one point was directly between Jones and the official) and he didn’t.

Unless the NFL somehow comes up with evidence that Tomlin masterminded the whole thing, either before the play or while the play was in progress, it’s impossible to say definitively what the coach was thinking, or whether or not Jones would have scored anyway. Many have claimed to “know” the answers to those questions, but they’re simply guessing, they can’t know for sure. So a fine is in order and forthcoming, and the greatest rivalry in the NFL has another strange and sordid chapter.

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Tomlin, Steelers reportedly facing fines, potential draft pick loss

Posted on 01 December 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Following Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s unpenalized sideline interference of Jacoby Jones during the Ravens’ 22-20 win on Thursday night, the NFL appears to be on the verge of cracking down on the head coach and the organization.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Tomlin and the Steelers are facing heavy fines and the league could even go as far as stripping the organization of a 2014 late-round draft pick because of the coach’s questionable sideline footwork during Jones’ kickoff return in the third quarter. Jones was forced to slightly change direction while running down the sideline to avoid Tomlin, a move that likely aided Cortez Allen in running down the Pro Bowl return specialist from behind.

The 73-yard kickoff return set up the Ravens offense at the Pittsburgh 27, but Baltimore eventually settled for a field goal.

Recently appointed to the league’s prestigious competition committee, Tomlin clearly ventured far too close to the field during the long kickoff return, but the difficulty in determining whether it was intentional would make the forfeiture of a draft pick seem unlikely as the league is expected to rule on the matter as early as Monday. Numerous Ravens players were critical of the Steelers coach’s behavior, and a video shot of Tomlin smiling on the stadium video board didn’t exactly help his case with any observers.

Tomlin said after the game that he lost awareness of his body positioning as he watched the long kick return on the M&T Bank Stadium video board but that any interference with the play wasn’t intentional.

“It was wrong and I take responsibility for it,” Tomlin said.

The league could look to the 2010 incident of Jets assistant Sal Alosi interfering with a Miami Dolphins player on the sideline for precedent as New York was fined $100,000 for his actions. Alosi was fined $25,000 by the Jets and suspended for the remainder of that season before leaving the organization. However, this type of action taken by a head coach is a far more serious matter as the league wants to send a message that questionable sideline decorum — intentional or not — will not be tolerated.

If the Ravens had lost the game, the league would have had an even bigger problem on its hands considering how unhappy Baltimore was about Tomlin’s behavior even in victory.

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The Tomlin sideline jig — big deal…or not? I’ll tell you why it’s “not”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

OK, I’ll go ahead and make my obligatory comment on Mike Tomlin and “Sideline-Gate” from Thursday night’s 22-20 Ravens win over Pittsburgh.

I don’t quite see it as the big deal that lots of folks in town are making it out to be.

Now — admittedly — as I tweeted during the game from the M&T Bank Stadium press box, had Pittsburgh somehow finagled their way to a comeback win last night, the Tomlin “play” would have been all anyone in the country was talking about today.

Thankfully, for a lot of reasons, it didn’t happen that way.

That said now, I can go back to my reaction on the whole thing:  It’s pretty much…………”meh”.

Why?

Because players intentionally violate the rules ALL THE TIME in the NFL.  Sometimes they’re penalized, sometimes they’re not.

In fact, earlier in the game, Pittsburgh’s supposed all-world cornerback Ike Taylor stopped an almost sure-fire touchdown by grabbing Torrey Smith’s arm and shoulder as #82 whizzed by him on a sharply run stop-and-go route down the same sideline of the Tomlin-quick-step.

On that occasion, actually, the referee threw a penalty flag on Taylor, so he was cited for his infraction.  But, smartly on Taylor’s part, the damage had been done.  His move kept the Ravens from scoring a touchdown.  The ensuing Justin Tucker field goal on the series resulted in the proverbial four-point swing.

How is Ike Taylor intentionally grabbing Torrey Smith to keep him from catching a touchdown pass any different than what Tomlin did?

To me, it’s not.

The most obvious part of the whole situation is that Tomlin’s dancing effort didn’t actually affect the result of the game.  Sure, it COULD have, but it didn’t.  Only in the disdain-filled Steelers-Ravens rivalry could a scene that didn’t alter the outcome be this discussed and debated.

Now, if you want to throw in a comment or two about how Mike Tomlin is the coach and, therefore, has a higher moral standard to uphold, I’d buy a few shares of stock in that argument.

Tomlin – or any coach in the league – shouldn’t be involved in a play like the one on Thursday night.

He’ll get fined by the NFL and rightfully so.

The REAL blame from Thursday’s “Sideline-Gate” should go to the referee crew.  There already IS a rule in place to cover things like the coaching stepping out on the field.  It’s called “a 15 yard penalty”.  The refs just didn’t apply the rules correctly on Thanksgiving night.

Some folks are clamoring for a Tomlin suspension — and I think that’s mainly home cooking from rabid Ravens fans who see black and yellow and turn into mean old wet hens during a late Saturday afternoon summer storm.

What Tomlin did was wrong.

And, WITHOUT QUESTION, the league needs to come up with a more penalizing rule – quickly – to strongly discourage any coach from being involved in a play like that in the future.  Should it result in an immediate ejection?  Maybe.  How about an automatic penalty of half the distance to the goal-line for any coach who steps on the sideline stripe?  Sure, perhaps.

Frankly, the referee TEN FEET BEHIND Tomlin on the sideline should have penalized him on the spot.

But, let’s not make it out to be anything other than it was:  An attempt to gain an edge.  And, in the end, it didn’t work because his team lost.

It’s the same thing, in my eyes, as Corey Graham clutching the left arm of Antonio Brown in the 4th quarter on a sideline throw and then NOT having a penalty flag thrown on the play.

It’s just football.

To borrow an old phrase familiar to the likes of Kentucky basketball, “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.”

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Jacoby Jones was thinking: “Is Tomlin going to move?”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by WNSTV

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Flacco: “Tomlin pulled my move!”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by WNSTV

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Thursday night

Posted on 28 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Though each team carries an underwhelming 5-6 record, playoff ramifications are high on Thanksgiving as the Ravens and Steelers meet for the 36th time in the regular season but the first time ever on a Thursday night.

A win pushes the Ravens closer toward the No. 6 spot in the AFC while a loss all but ends their season as they would likely need to win their remaining four games to have any chance of advancing to the postseason for the sixth straight time under head coach John Harbaugh.

The Ravens are healthier than they’ve been at any point this season as defensive end Chris Canty was the only starter on the injury report — listed as probable — while the Steelers will be without starting nose tackle Steve McLendon and are unlikely to have outside linebacker and sack leader LaMarr Woodley, who is doubtful with a calf injury. However, it appears Baltimore will likely need to wait at least one more week for the return of tight end Dennis Pitta.

It’s time to go on the record as the Steelers look for their first season sweep over Baltimore since the 2008 season and hold the 20-15 edge all-time in the regular season while also owning a 3-0 advantage in the postseason. The Ravens are 8-9 against Pittsburgh in Baltimore and have lost two of the last three played at M&T Bank Stadium. The last four meetings and nine of the last 11 regular-season contests between the Ravens and Steelers have each been decided by just three points.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to move to the .500 mark for the first time since mid-October …

1. Tyrod Taylor will see a few offensive snaps but will not line up under center as the wildcat discussion will calm considerably. Should the Ravens continue using the gimmick offense after Joe Flacco said Tuesday that he didn’t expect to see it much moving forward, the doubts of whether the quarterback and the coaching staff are on the same page will only get stronger. The truth is the wildcat attack isn’t going to be the difference-maker the Ravens need as opponents see it more and more, but there’s no reason Taylor can’t be used lining up as a wide receiver or even at running back on occasion. If the Steelers were forced to even spend as much as 20 or 30 minutes in a short week preparing for the possibility of the Ravens using the novelty offense, I suppose that’s an advantage for Baltimore, but it won’t dramatically alter the outcome of the game.

2. Neither team will run for more than 80 yards as Le’Veon Bell won’t duplicate his strong Week 7 performance. Pittsburgh used its own version of the wildcat in the first meeting of the season, which led to a season-high 141 yards on the ground for the league’s 30th-ranked running game. Meanwhile, the Ravens haven’t run effectively against anyone except Miami in Week 5 and the Bears two weeks ago, so it’s difficult to expect them to do much against even the Steelers’ 23rd-ranked run defense. After years of these rivals thriving on dominating defense and the running game, it’s clear that the 2013 versions of the Ravens and Steelers simply do not fit that profile. You’re much more likely to see 300-yard performances from either of the starting quarterbacks than to see a 100-yard day from either Bell or Ray Rice as the defenses will control the line of scrimmage.

3. Justin Tucker will miss his first field goal since Week 2. Anyone recall when the second-year kicker missed two tries in the home opener against Cleveland and was outperformed by former Raven Billy Cundiff? So much for any concerns of a sophomore slump as Tucker hasn’t missed a kick since, earning AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November and also the weekly honor after booting four field goals in last Sunday’s win over the Jets. Tucker’s streak of 22 consecutive field goals is tied for the second-longest streak in franchise history — Matt Stover’s 36 straight is the record mark — and he has been the Ravens’ most reliable player this season. Now, after heaping all that praise on the unflappable 24-year-old, Thursday seems like the time when he’ll finally miss a kick while booting two others successfully.

4. Flacco will throw for 230 yards and a touchdown, but the Ravens’ red-zone struggles will carry over from last week. What was lost through all the comments Flacco made about the wildcat and his disdain for lining up at the wide receiver position was the fact that the sixth-year quarterback played his best game since before the bye week this past Sunday. The Ravens will have a tougher time against Pittsburgh’s 10th-ranked pass defense than they did against the Jets’ vulnerable secondary, but the most encouraging development from their Week 12 win was the vertical connections to Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Flacco will need to make big plays with his arm to best Ben Roethlisberger, and he will have a strong performance as he typically does in big games. However, the Ravens’ lack of consistent weapons will once again hurt in the red zone despite a touchdown to Smith.

5. The same movie will play out once again as the Ravens come up short in a big game against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers in a 17-13 final. Baltimore has the advantage at home playing on a short week, but the Ravens have always failed against Pittsburgh when the stakes are high, and Thursday certainly qualifies in that regard. The Ravens are arguably playing their best football of the year after winning two of their last three games, but Pittsburgh has been even better in winning five of seven and Roethlisberger has outplayed Flacco over the last six weeks of the season. The Ravens hold the edge defensively over Pittsburgh’s aging defense, but the Steelers offense is markedly better than Baltimore’s, which will be the difference in this one. It will be a close game as it typically is between these AFC North rivals, but a late drive culminating with a Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Antonio Brown will be the difference as the Ravens’ playoff hopes are dealt a fatal blow.

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Five days later, I have to give credit to…of all people…Mike Tomlin

Posted on 07 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

Since the Steelers rarely beat the Ravens anymore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Baltimoreans – ahem, me included – can’t get past that smelly home loss to the Black and Gold last Sunday.

It’s still hard to stomach.

The Ravens lost to Charlie Brown Batch.

Or did they?

Did someone else actually do more damage than Batch?

Well, after kicking Pittsburgh’s coach in the family jewels on Monday with THIS BLOG about his bush-league treatment of John Harbaugh in the post-game handshake, you’re going to be surprised by what you read next.

Mike Tomlin beat the Ravens on Sunday.

And do you know how he beat them?  By letting it leak out last Wednesday that Ben Roethlisberger was OUT and Charlie Batch was IN for Sunday’s game in Baltimore.

Think about it — why on earth wouldn’t Tomlin have tried to keep that a secret last week, like every other coach in the league would have done?  Wouldn’t nearly every other coach in the NFL think to himself: “I’ll keep this quarterback thing up in the air and make the Ravens think all week that Roethlisberger might be able to play.”?  Answer: Yes.  Every coach would.

But Tomlin went the other way and allowed word to get out right away that Big Ben was OUT and the old man was in.

Why? Because he knew once word got out that Batch was playing, anyone and everyone – including the 53 players on the Baltimore roster – assumed there was no way in hell Pittsburgh was winning.

And, as my late, great Mom used to say:  “When you assume, you only wind up making an ass out of “u” and me.”

Insert your own punch line here.

We all assumed – and some of you probably even invested in that assumption…if you know what I mean – there was no way the Ravens would lose at home to Charlie Batch.

Stroke of genius by Mike Tomlin.

Stroke. of. genius.

Can’t believe I’ve been forced to write that this morning, but it’s my final thought relative to the 23-20 Steelers win in Baltimore last Sunday.

I’m putting the game behind me now and getting focused on the Redskins.

Mike Tomlin, you got us last week.

Don’t get used to it, though.  We’ll be watching you more closely next time.

Both before AND after the game.

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The Steelers manned-up on Sunday…too bad Mike Tomlin didn’t do the same thing

Posted on 03 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

Mike Tomlin owes John Harbaugh an apology.  Or, at the very least, an explanation.

More on that later.

I’ve championed John Harbaugh’s cause here in Baltimore because I think he’s a very good football coach.  His record, here, does all the speaking that needs to be done.  Coaches are paid to do one thing: win games.  John has done that since arriving in Baltimore in 2008.

That said, I have occasionally nitpicked at Harbaugh for things like an “unnecessary” fake field goal against the Raiders a month ago or the 2-pointer against the Steelers on opening day, 2011, when Baltimore was already pounding the Steelers but felt justified in having Sam Koch dash into the end zone on a fake extra-point to make a blow out even more of a blow out.  There was also the time-out at the end of a meaningless pre-season game against the Chiefs a couple of years ago…one that Todd Haley chirped about during the post-game greeting at midfield.

John Harbaugh has had a moment or two where I thought he was bordering on showing-up-the-other-team and I’ve never been afraid to make those assessments on the radio because I always take pride in calling it as I see it, even if that means being critical of my hometown football or baseball team.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been right in doing so, either.  In the days following the fake-field-goal-for-a-TD gainst the Raiders, I bought into John’s way of thinking, even though initially I said it looked bad to forego an easy field goal and tack on another four points “just because”.  In the end, Harbaugh was right when he said, “Look, if you’re going to basically set up your defense to give us a free run at a touchdown, we’re going to take it and that’s that.”  Truth?  He was right, even if it meant I had to change my stance on it from my original reaction on Sunday.

But, again, before some unsophisticated goof stumbles in here and starts blabbing about how I’m a homer and I’m just pissed the Ravens lost to the Steelers and all that other Who Struck John?, I’ll remind any and all of you that I simply call it like it is — and sometimes that means I’ve had to take issue with something our own coach has done.

Let’s get back to the Tomlin apology-thing I referenced in the opening sentence.

In his five years in Baltimore, John Harbaugh has never once pulled a bush-league stunt like Mike Tomlin produced on Sunday evening after his Steelers edged the Ravens in Baltimore, 23-20.

Coaches are, in my humble opinion, the most special people in all of sports.  I’ve said that for a long time now and the more I’m around them, the more I know I’m right.  We throw the word “elite” around all the time when we talk about quarterbacks in the NFL, but the truth of the matter is that there are six of them in the league right now who are of that caliber and the only way to earn that label is by winning a title.  It’s different for coaches.  NFL head coaches are all elite when you take into account their responsibility, work ethic and dedication to preparation.  All 32 men who run NFL teams are, literally, elite human beings.

Unlike the players, who shower, answer a text message or 23, and then head off to Washington DC to party after a home game, the men who coach in the NFL are bound to their job in a 24/7 fashion that I’m confident none of us – including me – could handle with the same grace and dignity.

And that includes Mike Tomlin, he of a Super Bowl ring and a massive amount of respect-appeal from around the NFL.

Mike Tomlin is one helluva football coach.  I’ve said and written that a lot over the last five years.

But he committed the most unprofessional of sins on Sunday when he disrespectfully brushed past Harbaugh at midfield as the losing coach stuck out his hand to offer well wishes.

Yes, Tomlin’s right hand connected with Harbaugh’s.

But his eyes didn’t.

For reasons only Mike Tomlin can explain, he eschewed the proper protocol on Sunday night and did his best to avoid any personal interaction with the Ravens coach as the two met at midfield.

Now would be the time for you to check out THE VIDEO OF THE HANDSHAKE for yourself, so you know exactly what transpired.

It was unprofessional.

Bush league.

And, honestly, surprising.

I expected more from Tomlin, truth be known.

Here’s what I know as fact:

Harbaugh has a great amount of professional respect for Mike Tomlin.  Without mailing him a Christmas card or anything sappy like that, the Ravens coach has admired the way Tomlin has kept the Steelers together this season with their depleted offensive line, a broken down running game and the loss of star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

That was going to be John’s brief post-game message to Mike Tomlin on Sunday night, win or lose.

Unfortunately for Harbaugh, he had to man-up as the losing coach.

John’s offering would be simple but a high compliment for his rival: “Hey, congratulations.  You’ve done one helluva job with your team, Mike.  Nicely done.  Good luck the rest of the way.”

Soup to nuts, it would have taken four seconds, five if you count the friendly pat on the rump as Tomlin turns to head to the locker room.

That’s what Harbaugh intended to say to Tomlin on Sunday.

(Please see next page)

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An open letter to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Drew Forrester

Hey coach, I hope this finds you well and preparing to enjoy a wonderful Holiday season with your family and friends in Pittsburgh.

(Actually, while I think you’re a helluva football coach, I have to admit I giggled my ass off last Sunday watching you squirm your way through that press conference in Cleveland after your football team lost to the lowly Browns.  So, for obvious reasons, I’d probably rather you not be well.  If that makes me a bad guy, so be it.  I do, though, hope you have a great Holiday season.  I’m a Ravens fan, not a Grinch.)

Based on the whispers coming out of Pittsburgh about Ben Roethlisberger, it appears as if you’re going to have him back for this Sunday’s big game in Baltimore.  What a warrior that guy is, huh coach?  A month ago on a Monday night, he suffered some whacky rib and shoulder injury that could have killed him if he would have reached for the remote control the wrong way and now, suddenly, he’s going to risk life and limb to play against the Ravens?  Holy canoli. I’m impressed.

(Are you guys nuts Coach?  Why would you risk the best player on your team for one game?  You know you’re getting your ass kicked down here on Sunday no matter who stands behind center.  I realize you have to paint the best picture you can for your team, but in your heart of hearts, you’ve seen this play out over the last couple of years and you know for sure it’s going to play out down here again this Sunday.  Your team can’t beat the Ravens.  You’re going to get your feelings hurt, Roethlisberger or not.)

We have a lot of respect for the Steelers here in Baltimore, Coach.  We know as long as you guys have a pulse, you’re always capable of pulling off one, two, three or even four wins in a row and then somehow weaving your way through the pile of post-season teams to return to the Super Bowl.  Truth be known, we’d rather NOT see your team in the playoffs if we could pick and choose our playoff opponent.  Somehow, you always seem to nip us in the end when the chips are down in January.

(As S.E. Hinton once wrote (she’s a she, by the way, in case you didn’t know), “That was then, this is now”.  Yeah, we respect the Steelers here, but the Ravens are now the kings of the AFC North and your team is chasing our team.  With Roethlisberger at quarterback – and getting assistance from the refs like you usually do – the Steelers always have a puncher’s chance of beating anyone.  Without Roethlisberger, you’d be hard pressed to win the SEC.  And if it comes to pass that you’re fortunate enough to make the playoffs, you’ll be one and done without a home game, so we won’t see you in this post-season anyway.)

Go ahead and throw caution to the wind, Coach.  Tape Big Ben up and bring him down here on Sunday.  Your team has a much better chance of winning that way.  And, as you know, the standings are such that you really are in “must-win” territory these days.  You don’t have a choice, I suppose.  You have to go with Roethlisberger.

(Don’t be a dummy, Mike.  Leave Roethlisberger on the bench and let Charlie Batch be the QB of record in a 30-10 loss.  No one will blame you.  You can talk about “not risking a career” and “we have faith in Charlie” and “injuries are part of the game” and everyone in Pittsburgh will understand.  If you go with Ben, you’re getting your asses kicked here.  If you go with Batch, you’re getting your asses kicked here.  Do you see the similarity?)

Finally, I wasn’t around last Sunday.  How’d you guys do against the Browns?

(I know what happened in Cleveland.  hehe)

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Tomlin’s 3rd quarter gaffe paves way for huge Ravens win in Pittsburgh

Posted on 19 November 2012 by Drew Forrester

If you’ve been a regular listener to The Morning Reaction over the years, you know by now one of my personal sports adages is “the other team tries, too”.

After watching Sunday night’s 13-10 Ravens win in Pittsburgh, I need to add a small note to the end of that phrase — “and sometimes they DON’T try.”

That’s what happened on Sunday night when Mike Tomlin – with his team gouging the Ravens defense for five yards a carry all night – decided to sissy-out and kick a field goal rather than go for it on 4th and 2 from the Baltimore four yard line late in the 3rd quarter.

“Sometimes they DON’T try…”

Really, Mike?  Your running game was trampling the Ravens for the most part.  Your quarterback was literally hanging on for dear life with each hit he took.  And your defense – coupled with another unimaginative Ravens offensive effort – was doing a great job of shutting the door and keeping Baltimore close.

4th and 2 and you kick a field goal to make it 13-10?  Lame-ass coaching, that’s what that was.  As soon as I saw the Steelers line up for the field goal, I said, “This is a horrible decision…they won’t get this close to scoring again tonight.”

And I was right.  It WAS a horrible decision and they didn’t get anywhere near the red zone for the remainder of the night.

Of course, the national TV guys didn’t say a word about Tomlin’s horrible decision.  They mumbled something about the game being “a bloodbath” and “a nailbiter, as always” and forgot to mention that the Pittsburgh coach just handed the game to John Harbaugh and Company.

Here in Baltimore, we’ll gladly take it, as it helped pave the way for an ultra critical Ravens road win and a seemingly safe 2-game lead over the Steelers with six games to play in the regular season.

There’s another famous saying that goes like this:  NEVER look a gift horse in the mouth.

And Sunday’s win in Pittsburgh was a gift horse, what with Byron Leftwich lumbering around and Mike Tomlin playing safe with the game – and maybe his team’s season – on the line.

Three weeks ago in New York, Tomlin gambled with a crazy fake field goal on the Giants six yard line in a game Pittsburgh would eventually win despite the unsuccessful fake attempt.  And that was with his 2-time champion quarterback at the helm, not a stiff like Leftwich.

Sunday night, with red zone trips about as rare as a 5-game winning streak from the Pirates, Tomlin played it safe and kicked a field goal when two yards could have paved the way to a 14-13 lead and, perhaps, a shocking win.

Just like the referees helping the Ravens beat New England earlier this year…and Jason Garrett and Tony Romo aiding in a Baltimore win over Dallas…and Pat Shurmer forgetting to coach in a squeaker-of-a-win in Cleveland, the Ravens will no doubt take Sunday night’s win and head back to Baltimore with a smile on their face.

Hey, a win in Pittsburgh is a win, no matter how you do it.

Even if it takes the Steelers coach losing his man-card to get the job done, you smile at the end and say, “We’ll take it.”

Thanks Mike Tomlin.

We needed that.

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