The Steelers’ last-minute meltdown versus the Cowboys resulted in the team’s fourth consecutive loss. Should the Steelers hand the Browns their first victory this Sunday, head coach Mike Tomlin must be fired.
Oh, the humanity.
The script was written. Ben Roethlisberger, back to his prolific form, conducted a magnificent two-minute drill to put the Steelers in scoring position. The Dallas defense was reeling, momentum fully on Pittsburgh’s side.
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And then … the fake spike. Adding another badge to his already-cumulative sash of NFL accolades, Ben and Antonio Brown stunned the defense to give the Steelers the lead with only 42 seconds left. The ‘W’ was already marked on the schedule.
Those 42 seconds, shockingly, ended up being too many.
A quick pass here, a couple blatant face mask penalties (even though only one was called) there, and the Cowboys reached field goal range. As prayers were being sent for a Dan Bailey shank, this happened.
Ezekiel Elliot’s sea-parting touchdown run may end up being the defining image of the Steelers’ 2016 season. Just like that, Pittsburgh fell to 4-5, putting hopes of a playoff berth in serious doubt.
Sunday’s heartbreaking (brain melting?) defeat marks Pittsburgh’s fourth in a row. The team hasn’t won in over a month. And as ever, Mike Tomlin is under the proverbial microscope.
A group divided cannot stand, and Steelers Nation is split down the middle on their head coach. On one side, the Fire Tomlin crowd wants him run out of Pittsburgh. On the other, the Tomlin Apologists are unable to objectively criticize the evident flaws in his coaching style.
The defensive breakdown that led to the Cowboys win cannot be exclusively pinned on Tomlin. It’s not like he personally grabbed a face mask or blew an assignment. However, properly-coached players don’t commit those kinds of errors in critical situations.
The Fire Tomlin crowd lacks perspective. It’s childish to merely call for the coach’s head anytime a team is in a skid. The Rooneys believe in stability; Tomlin’s job is safe no matter how this season ends. There is one caveat that ought to be considered, though.
If the Steelers somehow lose to the Browns this Sunday, Tomlin must be fired.
Business is booming at the factory of sadness. Cleveland is 0-10, starting their fifth-string QB, and allowing 30 points per game. The 2016 Browns are like the 2015 Browns on steroids.
Sunday versus the Browns will be perhaps the biggest trap game the Steelers ever face. Not only is this Browns team incapable of winning, but the season essentially hangs in the balance. Should Pittsburgh fall to 4-6 with a divisional loss, the playoffs can be kissed goodbye. Not to mention, the Steelers get queasy on the road.
There’s no way the Steelers lose this game, right? Seemingly not, but we’ve said the same multiple times this season alone. Tomlin’s pitiful record against losing opponents is well-documented.
The hapless Browns are the perfect punching bag for the Steelers to take out their frustrations on. No team is better suited to bounce Pittsburgh back into the winning direction.
If, for whatever reason, the Steelers choke against the Browns, Mike Tomlin has to lose his job. A franchise-shaking statement has to be made.
At 4-5, the Steelers are still candidates to win the floundering AFC North. Given their record, that’s likely the only chance at a playoff berth. This team is easily the most talented in the AFC North, and despite what the record says, one of the best in the entire AFC.
Sunday’s game will serve as a spelling test for the Steelers. If Mike Tomlin’s crew can’t pass, then a new teacher is needed. Momentum for the remainder of the season can change with a convincing victory over the Browns.
Mike Tomlin is not a bad coach. But if his team hands the Browns their first win of the season, his time is up. The Steelers’ Super Bowl window is shutting more by the week, and time can no longer be wasted.