Mike Tomlin tried hard to defend his decision to onside kick with 2:18 remaining in a one-score game. Statistics — not to mention the result — say it wasn’t the right call.
The Steelers had two timeouts and the two-minute warning when Tomlin called for Chris Boswell to try the low percentage kickoff. Only five of 40 onside kicks were recovered by the kicking team during the regular season, via The Football Database.
Jacksonville recovered, and although the Steelers held the Jaguars to a three-and-out, Josh Lambo hit a 45-yard field goal with 1:45 left. So when the Steelers scored a touchdown with one second left, they still trailed by three points.
“I know analytically they probably fall in the lower percentages and things of that nature,” Tomlin said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. “If I err, I’m always going to err on the side of action in an effort to win. My guys know that about me. I think more importantly them knowing that about me, they expect that from me. I don’t fear failure. I’m going to do what’s required to pursue victory, even if it comes across as unconventional. I’m certainly not going to steer away from decision-making for fear of ridicule. Those guys put a lot on the line when we step into stadiums to play. I, in turn, am responsible for putting a lot on the line and embrace doing so. I understand when things don’t work out and the criticism that’s associated with it. I embrace that. But I go to work with men every day that lay a lot on the line when they step in stadiums as well. I’m just going to provide the same efforts that they provide me.”
His answer, like his decision, still doesn’t make much sense.