Friday, October 02, 2015

Takeaways: Tomlin's call will live in Steelers-Ravens infamy

By Chris Bradford 
October 2, 2015

Mike Vick scrambles during the second quarter of the Steelers game against the Baltimore Ravens, on Thursday, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Three things we learned about the Steelers after Thursday night's game against Baltimore:
It wasn't quite Pete Carroll in the Super Bowl bad but Mike Tomlin's decision to throw on fourth-and-1 in overtime will be a topic of conversation for the next, oh, five months or so. "When you lose, you're open to criticism," said Tomlin. "We lost, so I'm not going to justify anything that we did. Anything we did, I take responsibility for." With the ball on the Baltimore 33, instead of running with Le'Veon Bell, who averaged 5.9 yards per carry, Mike Vick was sent out to pass to Antonio Brown. Vick fired high and the ball was turned over on downs as the Ravens were able to quickly march into field position and win the game on Justin Tucker's 51-yarder with 5:08 remaining in overtime. "It's not my call," said Bell. "I just have to get the call and run it."
Ross Cockrell now has one fewer interception and as many fumble recoveries than Cortez Allen had last season.. Allen was out with a knee injury but Cockrell, who was signed on Sept. 5 after being released by Buffalo, continues to make the most of his opportunity. In the first half, Cockrell picked off an ill-advised Joe Flacco pass and returned it 37 yards to the Baltimore 36 but the Steelers were unable to capitalize. It was the first career interception for Cockrell, who continues to be used in the nickel package ahead of Brandon Boykin. "We put a lot of pressure on Flacco all night," Cockrell said. "I think that's part of what led to it. I think he threw off his back foot. I was fortunate to make a play of it." On Baltimore's first possession of the second half, Cam Heyward stripped Flacco but Cockrell, falling to the ground while keeping his tippy-toes in-bounds, recovered the loose ball. It was not only an athletic play but the kind of heads-up play you'd expect from a Duke grad, whose dad played at Columbia. "The ball bounced out and you have to get two feet in bounds," said Cockrell, who was beaten on Kamar Aiken's 15-yard score in the third quarter.

If the Steelers are going to have success in this 4 to 6-week window, or whatever it ends up being, they will need help from their special teams. They did not get it Thursday. Big time. After making two kicks earlier, Josh Scobee missed on attempts of 49 and 41 in the second half that could have sealed victory. "I feel like I let the team down and it's not something that I ever want to remember doing," Scobee said. "It's a bad feeling. ... It just wasn't my night." Sixth-round pick to Jacksonville be damned, don't be surprised to see the Steelers bring in another kicker. "We have to turn the stones over," said coach Mike Tomlin. "We have to find ways to win games. Obviously, that's an element of it." Rookie punter Jordan Berry fared little better. His first two punts went 75 yards. Combined (38 and 37 yards). With the Steelers clinging to a 20-14 lead in the third quarter, Berry hit a 41-yarder that gift-wrapped Baltimore good field position, starting at the Pittsburgh 28. That's not going to cut it in the best of times. Berry, who made Brad Wing expendable, has the leg but he has to find consistency.

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