In the biggest game of the year, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin made a clock management mistake that arguably could have cost the Steelers the game. I’m not saying they would have won but they would have put themselves in a better position to win the game. Here’s the situation. The Packers are leading 28-25. They have 2nd and goal from the Steelers 7 yard line with 3:01 left at the snap of the ball. The Packers throw a wide receiver screen that gains two yards and keeps the clock moving. The Steelers have one timeout left. Call timeout. There are 175 seconds left in the game after the second down play. A timeout can save 40 seconds or nearly 1/4 of the time remaining. 40 SECONDS SAVED ON DEFENSE IS 40 SECONDS SAVED. You are not saving that much time when you save a timeout for your offense because you can get a play off faster than 40 seconds when you are in the hurry up offense. If they called timeout, there would have been around 2:55 left in the game. On third down, if the Packers had thrown an incomplete pass again (and most likely they would have thrown a pass to the end zone because they needed a TD, not a FG), there would have been 2:50 left in the game. A FG attempt plus the ensuing kickoff would have left the Steelers with 2:35 – 2:40 left in the game plus the two minute warning to stop the clock. Instead, they didn’t call a timeout, the Packers snapped the 3rd down play with 2:15 left and the FG with 2:10 left. They then kicked off with 2:07 left and because the play ended with 1:59 left, the two minute warning was wasted on the kickoff return.
Certainly the Steelers could have benefited from the additional time and the two minute warning. They were not very organized on their last drive and certainly it seemed like they began to panic a little bit. After the first play for 15 yards, a first down pass for 5 yards kept the clock rolling and took :28 off the clock in between snaps. That was not very efficient. And, on 4th down, they didn’t seem ready and Big Ben barely got the play off before the play clock expired. Perhaps they should have used their last timeout as they ended the game with one timeout left. This was typical of the Steelers sloppy play all day. Not a good way to end the game for Mike Tomlin.