- Kirby Lee-USA Today Sports
Mike Tomlin made a gutsy call with five seconds left on Monday night against the San Diego Chargers when he decided to go for a touchdown from the 1-yard line instead of kicking a game-tying field goal and going to overtime.
The play worked, with Le’Veon Bell scoring on a direct snap, and the Steelers won. But the play also nearly backfired in the worst way possible.
The Steelers did have five seconds left and one timeout. Under most circumstances, the Steelers had enough time to run a play and still have time left over to call a timeout and kick the field goal if they came up short. However, Bell got stuffed at the line, causing the play to take longer than expected.
Replays showed the Bell got across the goal line just before his knee hit the ground.
However, one inch in the wrong direction and Bell doesn’t reach the goal line, the clock would have still been running, and the Steelers would have been rushed to call a timeout.
When he crossed the goal line, the clock still had two seconds showing.
It would have been close.
Incredibly, this play probably never happens if the Chargers don’t commit an unnecessary roughness foul on the previous play in which a safety went helmet-to-helmet on a defenseless player.
The penalty for that foul stopped the clock and the Steelers did not have to use their final timeout.
The call to go for the touchdown was especially gutsy on the part of Tomlin considering his team twice failed to convert first downs on fourth-down plays in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens.
Those failures led to one loss. If Bell fails to get into the endzone and the Steelers fail to call a timeout in time, this would have been another loss. It would have also dropped the Steelers to 2-3, with Ben Roethlisberger still injured, and two of their next three games against the 4-1 Cardinals and the 5-0 Bengals.
Tomlin got this one right. But considering how much was at risk, it’s amazing he made the call at all.