Mike Tomlin on final play: We play to win

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The Steelers were faced with a decision after a short pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey left them on the Patriots’ seven-yard-line with no timeouts and seconds ticking off the clock.

Ben Roethlisberger chose to fake a spike and try a slant to Eli Rogers over the middle of the field that was deflected by Patriots corner Eric Rowe into safety Duron Harmon‘s hands. The interception ended Pittsburgh’s hopes of winning the game or sending it to overtime, but coach Mike Tomlin said he had no problem with Roethlisberger making the play instead of something that might have kept a game-tying field goal in the equation.

“No. We play and we play to win,” Tomlin said at his postgame press conference.

The interception came a couple of plays after the Steelers thought they had the game won on a 10-yard catch by tight end Jesse James that was subsequently overturned when officials found James did not control the ball all the way through hitting the ground in the end zone.

It’s a call we’ve seen before and it’s one that is usually greeted with derision despite following the league’s rule as written. That derision will certainly be in effect in Pittsburgh this Sunday night, although some may save some space for the decision-making that followed it.

117 responses to “Mike Tomlin on final play: We play to win

  1. Pats fans can dislike my comment all they want, but everybody in the entire nation saw that was a TD

  2. Playting the percentages meant playing to win in OT. That’s the difference between these teams – Tomlin can’t win even when he has the superior talent.

  3. Should have ran an out. Why do these teams attempt to score in the end zone where all the defenders are?

    Ben never looked at another receiver. It’s as if they had no play available. The Steelers had plenty of time to get their play calls ready during the 10 minute review debacle. How could a pro coach be so unprepared?

  4. “We play to win” How about trying to sit on the lead for the better part of the 2nd half and then hoping for magic on the final drive. TOMLIN and Pittsburgh need to “mutually part ways” We all know they can’t fire him.

  5. gloryfromheaven46 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:49 pm
    Pats fans can dislike my comment all they want, but everybody in the entire nation saw that was a TD

    umm, nope The ball moved and rolled..take off your yellow and black glasses

  6. gloryfromheaven46 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:49 pm
    Pats fans can dislike my comment all they want, but everybody in the entire nation saw that was a TD

    I’m NO It wasn’t. He’s not a running back he’s a red. He DID NOT maintain possession and no one touched him. His left hand came off the ball and the ball rolled or moved.

    If you think it was the wrong call then you should stop watching football now.

    It may be a bad rule but it’s the rule

  7. Good idea. Poor execution. You only throw that pass if its going to #84 and even then its very risky over the middle. you gotta throw a fade where only one guy can get it, or spike it and take the 3 and go to overtime.

  8. The touchdown should not have been overturned if that ball was caught in the middle of the field instead of the end zone he caught the ball turned made a football move and into the endzone the ball moved after he crossed the goal line and after it slammed into the ground if anything it should have been a catch and then a fumble and then recovered by himself for the touchdown that’s how it would have happened if it was out in the middle of the field instead of the Endzone.. the ball did not come loose while he was in the process of making the catch it came loose after the catch was already made and after he crossed the goal line

  9. shnakeriver says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Well, that sounds good, but he should’ve thrown a pass that was safer and less likely to result in a pick
    ——
    Agreed. That play call was the same madness Seattle attempted to pull off in SB49. These NFL OC’s are so ignorant, and WEAK! Go for the safe call whereby only your receiver has a chance to catch it, or the ball falls out of bounds.

  10. The NFL continues to purposely screw the public. Pittsburgh won. On a touchdown catch. But the NFL decides what it wants over and over. The entire viewing world knows pittsburgh won. The patriots are a joke. Congrats NFL. You made an ass of yourself yet again.

  11. gloryfromheaven46 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:49 pm
    Pats fans can dislike my comment all they want, but everybody in the entire nation saw that was a TD

    You must have watched it on the entire radio. Whatever; the final is in the books. Get some sleep because your Monday morning is just around the corner. #patsfanabletosleepin

  12. Nothing wrong with trying to throw it on 3rd down to win.

    But why did Ben even throw a useless 2 yards mid field with no timeouts? THROW IT AWAY, those 2 yards do NOTHING for you, but a clock stop would do everything.

    Then why is he fake spiking it like 3 times before trying to jam it into coverage? Nobody was buying the spike, they were scrambling around like nobody on the offense had any clue what was going on, and they lost because of it.

    It just makes no sense. Nothing they tried to do in those last few plays made any sense whatsoever.

    Even when the full rush was OBVIOUSLY coming on 2nd down, where’s the check at the line to get somebody right up that giant void towards the endzone? Why did they see it coming and do nothing to adjust for it?

    So sick of watching clueless sloppy situational football, watching teams make every predictable play needed to botch any chance of winning they have. What a joke.

  13. I said it before. Coach Trippy McTripp is the one obstacle preventing the Steelers from reaching greatness.

  14. The Patriots, no matter how much another team appears to be dominating play, are almost never out of a game. That was Brady’s 51st fourth quarter victory drive. When Romo heard that number he thought it was made up.

  15. “I am a neutral observer and as painful as it was it was the correct call in 2017”. Even as a Patriots fan, I agree with this assessment. If the Pats lost on that play it would hurt for a week.

  16. Tomlin kills me every time they come up short in these big games with his post game comments. We play to win; except going ultra conservative on the last 2 series of the game where you take the ball totally out of your QB’s hands who was playing a great game. Romo hit the nail on the head as far as the predictability of the calls on 1st/2nd down the last 2 series prior to the end of the game. Everyone watching the game knew Brady would go right down the field and score if they got the ball back with a couple of minutes left.

    Also; how you allow one guy to single handily beat you again and again for the last 5 years is unbelievable. No one else out there but Gronk was even getting a look by Brady. You can’t throw a wrinkle out there to try something else??? one on one on the 2 point conversion and whole 4th quarter; inexcusable.

  17. gloryfromheaven46 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:49 pm
    Pats fans can dislike my comment all they want, but everybody in the entire nation saw that was a TD
    __________________________
    kick a field goal…………or stop your whining

  18. everyone keeps mentioning that the ball moved and his left hand came off the ball. It sure looked like he had at least 2-3 fingers of the right hand under the ball. so what does it matter if the ball moves or even hits the ground so long as one of yourhands is under the ball? You don’t need both hands to maintain possession. How the league saw enough to overturn that is beyond me. They say it has to be irrefutable. Was it? I Saw the exact same catch same circumstances the replay went to NY, and they called it a TD. Zero consistency when it comes to NY and these replay reviews.

  19. Just like that Pete Caroll boneheaded call in the SB, the final play will haunt the Steelers for a long time to come. No way they recover this season. Stick a fork in them.

  20. Why do other teams all lose their minds when it comes down to the last moments of big games versus the Patriots? Just make the safe calls and you either win or go to overtime. Tomlin, just another Coach that needs to be fired.

  21. Two things about the end of the game: Kick returner should not have come out of the end zone. Cost Pitt 4 yards but more important, more 5 seconds of play. As for the James “fumble” if he had reached the ball over the line and a player knocked it out after it crossed the plane, it would be a TD. Silly that he caught the ball, had possession, reached over the line but instead of a player knocking the ball out, the ground did and it was no longer a TD. That is insane.

  22. Steelers have a ref call go against the them flrst time in 40 years and suddenly it’s rigged. You guys do realize you flat out stole rings from both the Seahawks and the Cardinals, right? I am talking pure ref-abetted theft.

  23. Didn’t James “cross the plane” of the goal line with the ball in his possession? I thought that is all that is needed to score a TD if a player catches or runs with the ball from out of the end zone.

  24. Same loser mentality as the Raider fans in 2001.

    Think you got a bad call? Suck it up and keep playing.

    The Raiders could have stopped the Patriots after that.

    And the Steelers could have tried a safe play for the TD, and then taken the chip shot FG to force OT. Instead they decided to get cute and fire the ball into a crowd and hand the game to NE. What kind of idiotic coach/QB make that decision?

  25. tigerlilac says:
    December 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm
    The Patriots, no matter how much another team appears to be dominating play, are almost never out of a game. That was Brady’s 51st fourth quarter victory drive. When Romo heard that number he thought it was made up.

    —————————-

    You’re right. Even on Monday night they were thoroughly dominated by the Dolphins and only lost by 7 points.

  26. Welcome to the club of getting screwed by a dumb rule. The Vikes lost the #1 seed with the Thielen “non catch” last week just like the Steelers did this week. Maybe the NFL will wisen up but I doubt it.

  27. Steelers long lucky streak has run out. This is just the beginning. Ha ha ha.

  28. That game and the TD that was given to the Panthers on review both have me realizing it is a new, “relative reality” NFL than what I used to know. When I was growing up, when the ball broke the plane in a player’s possession, everything after that didn’t matter. And if your butt hit the back of the endzone while you were still juggling the ball, it wasn’t a TD. But what do I know anymore, these refs are just making it up as they go along.

  29. .
    Romo was correct. You run a play to try to win the game. But the selection has to be 100% safe, like a fade.
    .

  30. bassplucker says:
    December 17, 2017 at 8:32 pm
    That game and the TD that was given to the Panthers on review both have me realizing it is a new, “relative reality” NFL than what I used to know. When I was growing up, when the ball broke the plane in a player’s possession, everything after that didn’t matter. And if your butt hit the back of the endzone while you were still juggling the ball, it wasn’t a TD. But what do I know anymore, these refs are just making it up as they go along.

    ___________

    You’re “new reality” has been around as long as the Calvin Johnson catch. It’s a bad rule,but it is enforced consistently. No catch.

    If you’ve been watching the NFL for the last five years, you’d know that.

  31. Your team outplayed the Patriots all game long and when it comes down the stretch,you cover Gronk with a guy half his size and let them march straight to the end zone? That’s not playing to win,Herm…um…Mike. Neither is the boneheaded fake-spike-turned interception. WHY didn’t you just kick the field go and go to overtime??? They couldn’t stop you all game. Anyway,the Patriots thank you for the early Christmas gift.

  32. There was nothing wrong with running one more play, just not THAT play. Run a safer fade route. And their earlier play to James was a catch and a touchdown. He caught it, then reached for the endzone. Is that not a “football move?”

  33. My son is 10 years old and he knew real right away that you absolutely have to throw a fade there.

    Wow. Preparedness really does matter, doesn’t it?

  34. gloryfromheaven46 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:49 pm
    Pats fans can dislike my comment all they want, but everybody in the entire nation saw that was a TD

    ——————
    Actually I totally love your comment.

    But it was not a catch according to the rules as written today. So not a TD. If you want to discuss how the rules are wrong and need to be updated for that scenario I am with you on that. But if you want to deny that they say what they say, you are on your own with that one.

  35. wib22 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 8:59 pm
    How do the pats keep on getting away with this?

    The cheating
    —————
    Ill bite. Whats your story for today? Shall we say Belichick controled the ball with an energy beam he operates from his secret moon base? Or do you want to go with something far fetched?

  36. I don’t have a problem with clocking it or with throwing the ball in that context, but whatever the choice, fully commit to it!

    The fake kneel was just awful. If you are going to throw, choose a real play and have more than ONE receiver run a route so you’re not forced to throw into triple coverage!

  37. cgford7 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 8:03 pm
    Tomlin kills me every time they come up short in these big games with his post game comments. We play to win; except going ultra conservative on the last 2 series of the game where you take the ball totally out of your QB’s hands who was playing a great game. Romo hit the nail on the head as far as the predictability of the calls on 1st/2nd down the last 2 series prior to the end of the game. Everyone watching the game knew Brady would go right down the field and score if they got the ball back with a couple of minutes left.

    Also; how you allow one guy to single handily beat you again and again for the last 5 years is unbelievable. No one else out there but Gronk was even getting a look by Brady. You can’t throw a wrinkle out there to try something else??? one on one on the 2 point conversion and whole 4th quarter; inexcusable.

    ———————————————————————————

    wow……………….on the money……………..great comment

  38. Ill bite. Whats your story for today? Shall we say Belichick controled the ball with an energy beam he operates from his secret moon base? Or do you want to go with something far fetched?

    ****

    They have the refs in their backpocket, plus ernie adams had the signals of the steelers ready in time.

  39. steelers1977 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:54 pm
    The touchdown should not have been overturned if that ball was caught in the middle of the field instead of the end zone he caught the ball turned made a football move and into the endzone the ball moved after he crossed the goal line and after it slammed into the ground if anything it should have been a catch and then a fumble and then recovered by himself for the touchdown that’s how it would have happened if it was out in the middle of the field instead of the Endzone.. the ball did not come loose while he was in the process of making the catch it came loose after the catch was already made and after he crossed the goal line

    No. You need to learn the rules. No matter where this play happened it would have been ruled the same. The only difference is if it happened outside of the last two minutes of each half, a coach would have to challenge the call. Otherwise, it would be ruled the same. I think the rule is not good, but it is the rule.

  40. “It’s a call we’ve seen before and it’s one that is usually greeted with derision despite following the league’s rule as written. That derision will certainly be in effect in Pittsburgh this Sunday night, although some may save some space for the decision-making that followed it.”

    —–

    You might want to mention the obvious. It’s Mike Tomlin’s rule. Keeping this rule in place every year is a concession to the defensive voices in the room in the Competition Committee after all the rule changes in recent years favoring offense.

    Mike Tomlin is the defensive voice in the room. This rule exists because he wants it to.

  41. I love that Florio said the close games the Steelers have been playing the last few weeks will prevent them from doing “something stupid” the final 5 minutes. Oh, yeah!!!!!!!!!! LOL.

  42. 1. NO way James had a catch and a TD. Did not control the ball through the process. Everyone can see that. In today’s NFL, that is NO Catch.

    2. Kicking a game tying FG gives you a chance to win the game also. So Trippy can’t claim that kicking a game-tying FG wouldn’t qualify as playing to win the game.

    Tomlin, out-coached again. Stealers were out-played….again
    And yes, the Stealers pooped their pants when it counted most….again.

  43. wib22 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 9:14 pm
    Ill bite. Whats your story for today? Shall we say Belichick controled the ball with an energy beam he operates from his secret moon base? Or do you want to go with something far fetched?

    ****

    They have the refs in their backpocket, plus ernie adams had the signals of the steelers ready in time.
    ——————-
    They should ask for a refund then because the refs called the game correctly except for still allowing DBs to hold on Gronk. And I dont know that Adams would have bothered getting their signals because these days teams use radios.

  44. Will they never learn? You don’t throw a slant pass against the Patriots in the last 30 seconds of the game. Just ask Russell Wilson.

  45. Why are soooo many Steeler fans not clued into the modern day NFL?

    Everyone knows these catch rules are insane, but we all know and have seen this over and over.
    “A receiver Must control the ball through out the process”

    Why do you all act like you don’t know this rule? Because you lost?
    I thought Steeler fans were better than that

  46. It was a great game. Not a fan of the steelers obviously but they are a damn good team. I’ll be even more nervous if they have to come to the razor in the playoffs. Imo Tomlin is not a good coach. So much talent and it’s wasted. Need a new coach that isn’t a “players coach”. Im sure they will meet again in January!

  47. Have to disagree w PFT and say I don’t think we have seen this play before.
    Never saw a guy get control of the ball on the ground and then reach out, cross the ball over the goal line, then have it called incomplete because the ball came out when the ball hit the ground.
    The guy clearly had possession and then made a move for the goal line.

    If the guy leaps in the air to catch the ball, comes down on the one and does the same thing is that incomplete ??

    I didn’t care who won but this is common sense. Call it the Jesse James rule and do it by next year.

    Thanks in advance NFL.

    I defy PFT to show another example of this play. This play is different from the Dez Bryant play because James was on the ground with control.

  48. The Steelers had plenty of time to get two plays called while the Jesse James touchdown was being reviewed. Why didn’t they have a better play ready to go for third down? Was the fake spike really the play call and was that the best they could come up with? And great job by Big Ben throwing into triple coverage in the middle of the field.

  49. Post game: Tomlin was hiding behind generic slogans. Belichick was designing a strategy to stop drag routes.

  50. Mikey, you absolute dope of a HC, so lemme ask you, if you really do “play to win,” wouldn’t you like, maybe, you know, have had an actual play called on that fateful 3rd down which resulted in your team losing any real chance of an extended playoff run?

  51. Typical Tomlin BS. He chose to basically turtle up about midway through the 3rd quarter, and play not to lose with, in his mind, an insurmountable lead of 8 points. We play to win…Are you serious? Google should have MT’s pic pop up when you search for “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

  52. Steeler fans aren’t clued in to the modern day NFL because they are stuck in the Steel Curtain Dynasty years.

    It is a crap rule, but it’s been that way for years. Teams have straight up lost playoff games because of it. It is only incomplete because he caught it “going to the ground”. If he caught it standing up and then extended over the line, it is a TD.

    Regardless, the Steelers had 28 seconds to make something happen and get at least a game tying FG. Instead they threw a play in-bounds, then tried some trickery that hasn’t worked in forever, and got picked off on the play. If Ben eats that throw, they kick a FG and go to OT. This loss isn’t about the completion or incompletion. It all falls to one bone-headed decision.

  53. For all of you morons who don’t think that was a catch, start watching soccer because you know nothing about football. Pats fans have to know they got a gift. That officiating crew is horrible and the NFL knows it. That call ruined what was otherwise a great game played by 2 great teams. See you in the playoffs.

  54. After the Steelers made that 70 yard gain down to the 10-yard line,he just looked like he (Tomorrow n) didn’t know what to do. That’s inexcusable.

  55. elmerbrownelmerbrown says:
    December 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    The only bad call in that game was the last play call
    _____________________________

    So you were fine with singling up on Gronkowski even while he kept taking their lunch money?

  56. skawh says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:54 pm
    Agreed. That play call was the same madness Seattle attempted to pull off in SB49. These NFL OC’s are so ignorant, and WEAK! Go for the safe call whereby only your receiver has a chance to catch it, or the ball falls out of bounds.
    _________________________________________

    It’s a never ending source of amazement that supposed football fans can’t put the blame for those plays where it belongs and instead hang the OC’s out to dry. An NFL QB needs to recognize when the play isn’t there and throw it away. How is it in one sentence you can call OC’s “WEAK” but in the next blame them for not playing it safe? In both instances the OC’s only real mistake was trusting the judgement of the same player whose judgement he trusted all season long.

  57. From what I saw you can’t blame the coaches for “calling” a play over the middle instead of a safer fade. It looked like the Steelers being in hurry-up mode called no play and that the receivers free lanced. I’m afraid the blame is probably ultimately on Ben for making a chancy throw in that situation.

  58. Eric Rowe saw that fake spike coming. Remember Butler interception vs the Hawks? Patriots players are well-coached. Tomlin ought to keep that in mind when he wants to get fancy with plays.

  59. riverhorsey says:
    December 17, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    I defy PFT to show another example of this play. This play is different from the Dez Bryant play because James was on the ground with control.
    _______________________________________________

    I’m not PFT but the play was no different than what happened to Detroit twice, most recently against Atlanta.

  60. Stop it Steeler fans! There are two teams in the league that have no right to ever complain about officiating after all the preferential treatment they’ve received throughout the years. They are Green Bay AND Pittsburgh.

    P.S Detroit this year has received the GB/Pitt treatment but it’s probably an anomaly. While they should remain silent this year, next year they can go back to complaining

  61. Steelers had a lineman 6 yards downfield in the previous TD and they PICKED UP THE FLAG!!!!!!!! The Patriots would have run the clock out instead of go for the TD. Refs screwed the Pats!!!!!!!!!!!

  62. saxguru says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:51 pm
    Steelers got hosed.

    ——————————————-

    Nope the Steelers hosed themselves. Stop blaming NFL rules and the refs for your own failures.

  63. I can state a couple of ways the Steelers were hosed.

    The Jesse James play is the result of a poor rule/rule interpretation.

    There was clear pass interference on the fake spike play. If the officials did their jobs, the Steelers still have the opportunity for a chip shot and OT.

    The pass interference call on Artie Burns cover Gronkowski to set up up the Pats field goal to bring the lead down to 5 was weak as hell. To call that and then swallow your whistles on the fake spike play is inexcusable.

  64. vonkaiser2001 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 7:55 pm
    The NFL continues to purposely screw the public. Pittsburgh won. On a touchdown catch. But the NFL decides what it wants over and over. The entire viewing world knows pittsburgh won. The patriots are a joke. Congrats NFL. You made an ass of yourself yet again.
    =================
    You mad bro? LOL

  65. December 17, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    They have the refs in their backpocket, plus ernie adams had the signals of the steelers ready in time.
    =================
    BWA HA HA HA HA

    When in doubt pull out the spygate card. LOL

    Ernie had his tin foil hat on and used telepathy to tell Rowe that Ben would fake the spike and to tip the ball to Harmon to end the game. LOL

  66. hbk314 says:
    December 18, 2017 at 1:04 am
    I can state a couple of ways the Steelers were hosed.

    The Jesse James play is the result of a poor rule/rule interpretation.

    There was clear pass interference on the fake spike play. If the officials did their jobs, the Steelers still have the opportunity for a chip shot and OT.

    The pass interference call on Artie Burns cover Gronkowski to set up up the Pats field goal to bring the lead down to 5 was weak as hell. To call that and then swallow your whistles on the fake spike play is inexcusable.
    =====================
    Sorry but Artie Bruns was extremely fortunate he only got flagged once. The refs decided to hold the laundry for both teams. You’re relying on excuses for PI on the spike play. Ben should have never thrown the ball to begin with regardless if PI was there or not.

  67. fishyinalittledishy says:
    December 18, 2017 at 2:50 am
    Send the Patriots back to Miami we’re we can show the rest of the league how give them a pasting. Just Denver that can take advantage of us soffing them up for you all. Pathetic
    ================
    The fish won their SB. ‘Gratz. They can now enjoy watching the real one from home.

  68. Less than a decade ago that was a TD. Now it’s not. You figure it out. One more reason not to watch the NFL. Pats deserved to lose based on giving up a 70 yard dump off pass. That said, spike the ball and kick the FG. The Steelers gave the game back to the Pats. They deserved to lose based on that alone.

  69. Pay attention to Ben’s post-game interview. It was NOT a fake spike. Ben was going to clock the ball, and had called to do so, then Tomlin &/or Haley told him not to, so the play was a disaster. We were beating the Partriots, but not the referees, so kick the FG & go for OT, & hope you win the coin toss, although the refs would have probably had a double-heads coin, so the Pats would win that too. Dumb call by Tomlin & it came back to bite him.

  70. Playing to win means tying the game up and sending it into overtime not losing it on a low percentage, disorganized, poorly coached pooping the bed play. Tomlin is just being his usual nonsensical, gobbledygook, gibberish talking self.

    With 28 seconds left and the ball at the 10 and no timeouts left (Thankds Coach Trip!) why did Big Dummy throw a 3 YARD PASS to Heyward in the MIDDLE OF THE FIELD?

    After a miracle play by JuJu should have at least sent the game to overtime the Steeler Brain Trust (just kidding!) did everything within their power to lose it in regulation.

  71. It’s not a bad call if it’s open and you caught the pats slipping you throw you win. Since it wasn’t open then Ben should’ve just thrown it out of bounds.

  72. There must be a rule in the NFL books that touchdowns against the Pats in the last minutes of a game don’t count..!!

  73. Steeler fans have to be the least knowledgeable in the NFL.

    The current catch rule has been in effect for Y-E-A-R-S. The Dez Bryant non-catch call in GB on the same kind of play was in 2014 for crying’ out loud.

    And yet you have Steeler fans here who act like they’ve never seen it before, or make comments like “he broke the plane”, or even better “he was down at the 1”.

  74. koenig61 says:
    December 17, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    everyone keeps mentioning that the ball moved and his left hand came off the ball. It sure looked like he had at least 2-3 fingers of the right hand under the ball. so what does it matter if the ball moves or even hits the ground so long as one of yourhands is under the ball?
    ———————————————————————————————-
    I have no idea what replay you could possibly have watched, but it was obvious to anyone not on the Steeler payroll that the ball hit the ground.

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