In sports, everyone is a winner—some people just win better than others. Like Mike Tomlin, who managed to avoid joining the list of all-time bonehead coaches ever in the history of anything. Winning is helpful!
Let's just be clear on this—if you thought Bill Belichick was a moron for going for it on 4th-and-2, then you're going to have a hard time justifying an onside kick when your team is ahead by two with four minutes left. The kick failed (even though it probably shouldn't have) and the Packers got eight quick points out of it. Just because Green Bay left exactly enough time for Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace to score a game-winning touchdown, that shouldn't be enough to get Tomlin (and us) off the hook for seven days of recriminations from angry ex-football players. But it will.
Let's review the talking points we heard the last time around:
It's a sign of disrespect to your defense! Tomlin pretty much admitted that this is exactly right. He knew that if Green Bay got the ball back, they were going to score. So if they just got it over with quickly, then the Steelers might have enough time to put their own points on the board. (They scored the winner with zero seconds left.) So is James Harrison picking up the pieces of his fragile psyche this morning?
Hubris! If a fourth down try is going all in, an onside kick is like putting your car keys on the table and then texting your wife to find out how much is left in Junior's college fund. Cojones.
He's sending the league a message! No one ever used a kicker to send a message. Not even Jeff Reed.
So where are Trent Dilfer and Tedy Bruschi this morning? Sleeping in apparently, because the Steelers won the game. The decision is exactly the same. He "thought" his team would pull it off, they didn't and it cost them. Just because Peyton Manning understands end-of-game clock management better than Aaron Rodgers, that doesn't change the fact that it was a silly call that nearly ended Pittsburgh's season. Yet, Tomlin will receive exactly 0.6% of the vitriol that Belichick got for an equally gutsy/stupid/brilliant/egotistically insane play.
Four more seconds and everyone would be calling him a fool today. That's sports for you.
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Here are some other winners who did not win quite as big:
Snow plow drivers: You're getting time-and-a-half for this, right?
Joshua Cribbs: Two (very sexy) 100-yard kickoff returns and had a higher QB rating than Brady Quinn. (Cribbs was 0-1, proving what a tremendously useful statistic quarterback efficiency rating is.) The worse Quinn gets, the more points the Browns score. Have they considered breaking his fingers?
Drew Brees: Eh, who needs 19-0? All it gets you is an extra t-shirt.
Any AFC team that is still 7-7: Guess what? You're all going to the playoffs! It's all thanks to the NFL's Mediocrity Outreach Program.
The Weekend Loser?: Carl Landry, who had to undergo five hours of dental surgery after Dirk Nowitzki broke or knocked out five of his teeth. On a play Landry got called for a foul on. Relax! Landry will be eating Christmas turkey through a straw, but Dirk's elbow is going to be fine.