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Bad Beats: Gotta Have Faith

   by Ben Burns - 12/22/2009

’Cause I gotta have faith.”

Hopefully, being reminded of George Michael’s fame, in a sports betting column of all places, is a bad enough beat to satisfy all us Sadomasochists, who enjoy tormenting ourselves by reliving and dissecting difficult defeats.

Because, honestly, we didn’t see too many bad beats this week. But we did witness another controversial coaching decision coach that we’d love to discuss, one that reminded us of both the bathroom lover and a growing trend in the NFL – faith, or the lack thereof.

Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin was the latest NFL coach to admit that he had little faith that his defense was capable of stopping their opponent, in this case Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Tomlin follows Bill Belichick, who thought his defense had less of a chance of stopping Peyton Manning on a late-game drive than his offense had of picking up a 4th-and-2 from his own 28, when leading the Colts 34-28 with 2:08 to play. It backfired, and suddenly, Belichick, owner of three Super Bowl rings, wasn’t worth his sleeveless hoody. (Didn’t George Michael also sport the sleeveless look? I’m just saying).

Tomlin’s decision hasn’t received nearly the publicity, but it was equally, if not more, risky.

After kicker Jeff Reed put the Steelers ahead of Green Bay 30-28 with four minutes to play, Tomlin elected for a surprise onside kick. It backfired … kind of.

Ike Taylor touched the ball before it went 10 yards, giving the Packers the football at the Steeler 39 yard line.

Six plays later, Rodgers connected with James Jones for the go-ahead touchdown.

You could almost feel Steeler Nation’s blood boil. On-side kick up two with four minutes to play? Are you kidding me?

No, Tomlin wasn’t kidding. In fact, everything worked out almost exactly how he had planned.

Because the Packers were given the short field due to the onside kick, they scored quicker than if they would have had to drive the length of the field, something they had done with ease throughout the game.

The Steelers had a little over two minutes left, after the Packers’ scored. Turns out, that was just enough for Ben Roethlisberger to march the Steelers 86 yards in 11 plays and throw a winning touchdown pass to rookie Mike Wallace on the last play of the game.

"I'll be very bluntly honest with you, based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise we had a chance to get it, but if we didn't get it and they were to score, then we would have necessary time on the clock to score or match their score,” he explained to the media following the game. Plan A didn't work, we got the ball but we were illegal, that was the correct call, but it kind of unfolded the way you envisioned it. "We had 30 minutes of evidence that we could drive the ball on them, we also conversely had 30 minutes of evidence to show they could also drive the ball on us. That's why we took the risk when we did. We were just trying to win the football game. There was time left in that game that had we kicked that ball away and the half had gone the way that it'd gone, they were converting third downs. They would have moved the ball down the field on us, we wouldn't have had necessary time to respond. I'm just being honest, but it starts with feeling pretty good about the element of surprise and having a good chance to get that ball, but that part of it didn't work out.”

Sounds sound to us. What do you think?

Happy holidays and check back next week for the worst beats of 2009!

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