The On-Side Kick Heard Round the World

December 22nd, 2009 by Leave a comment Go to comments

The football fan has many duties but aside from rooting on their favorite team one of their chief responsibilities is to second-guess the coaching of their favorite team and really any team for that matter. The popular media also loves to practice the art of Monday Morning Quarterbacking as well and dissecting the coaching decisions that go on in online betting.

And on the Monday morning after week 15 there will be no coaching decision dissected more widely and repudiated more vigorously than Pittsburgh Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin’s decision to go for the on-side kick in the fourth quarter of the game against Green Bay with his team ahead by two points and roughly 5 minutes left on the clock.

Sound unorthodox? That’s because it is. And that’s also what made it a great coaching decision in the NFL betting lines. Sure, it didn’t work. But it was well-thought out and well designed and aside from some poor execution, it should have worked.

Still the chorus of voices in sports betting circles will decry the decision as crazy. But consider the facts for a moment. The Steelers have given up fourth quarter leads in five straight games, and seven times this year in total. Tomlin has seen his team get beat on the final drive of a game too many times for his liking and decided to do something about it.

If his defense was going to stop the Packers let them do it with five minutes on the clock rather than wait until the closing seconds. At least that way the Steelers would get the ball back. In hindsight, the on-side kick failed, but the strategy to get the last possession of the game worked to perfection. And that was the real issue at stake, not recovering the squib kick.

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