The Pittsburgh Steelers never got too close to completing a comeback against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night, but Mike Tomlin didn’t help.
Pittsburgh trailed Cleveland, 35-10, at halftime. The Steelers opened the second half with 13 unanswered points, making it a two-score game. Pittsburgh had the ball and was driving near midfield when Tomlin decided to punt the ball on 4th and 1.
That pretty much sealed the game, as the Browns drove down and scored to increase their lead, never really looking back. Tomlin faced heavy criticism for his decision to punt the ball.
Following the game, the Steelers’ head coach was asked about his decision to punt in that situation. He had a pretty simple explanation.
“We had a couple defensive stops. I wanted to pin them down. I wanted to keep the momentum in terms of field positioning. We weren’t good enough to do that,” the Steelers head coach said to the media.
I just asked Mike Tomlin to explain his fourth-and-1 punt in the fourth quarter, given the momentum the Steelers had: 'We had a couple defensive stops. I wanted to pin them down. I wanted to keep the momentum in terms of field positioning. We weren't good enough to do that.'
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) January 11, 2021
Field position is important, but not so much when you’re down by multiple scores in the second half of a playoff game.
The Steelers would have been much better off going for it on fourth down in that situation.