Steelers coach Mike Tomlin all but waved a white flag of surrender when he sent his punting team on the field on fourth-and-1 near midfield while trailing 35-23 on Sunday night. But afterward, Tomlin defended the move.
Tomlin cited trusting his defense and field position for the punt.
“We had some stops, wanted to pin them down, maybe provide the short field for our offense,” Tomlin said, via ESPN. “We had maybe two or three consecutive stops. I just wanted to keep the momentum going in terms of field positioning. But we weren’t good enough in terms of doing that.”
But the Steelers’ defense didn’t get a stop. Instead, the Browns marched down the field for a touchdown on the ensuing drive, giving them a 42-23 lead.
If Tomlin had gone for it on fourth-and-1, the Steelers probably would have lost anyway. They were, after all, trailing by 12 points and getting thoroughly outplayed. But going for it at least would have given the Steelers a shot. Punting ended their last realistic chance of a comeback.