With the Steelers down by five with 3:02 remaining and facing a 4th-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Tomlin elected to kick a field goal, which made the score 32-30 and put Pittsburgh in a must-stop situation on Seattle’s next possession.
Instead of forcing a much-needed three-and-out, the Steelers instead gave up an 80-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin, sealing a Seattle victory.
Roethlisberger, who was 36-for-55 for 456 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, never took the field again after suffering a reported concussion — it has since been confirmed he’s in the NFL concussion protocol– and Tomlin was asked after the game if his quarterback’s injury influenced his decision to kick a field goal instead of going for the touchdown.
“No it did not. We needed to get a stop,” he said, via Pro Football Talk. “I felt confident in our ability to do it. Obviously we didn’t. But those are calculated risks you take during football games. It was a five-point game. Just wanted the lead, and give those guys an opportunity to take the points and maybe win.”
“I called a fake field goal that was unsuccessful,” he said, via the Seattle Times. “I own that. That’s part of it. We weren’t good enough today. We’ll own that.”
The statistical probability of the Steelers pulling out the victory by going for a touchdown on the critical 4th-and-goal play was 35 percent, per an ESPN report. By electing to kick the field goal, the probability dropped to 25.4 percent. In a game full of miscues, the uncharacteristic decision by Tomlin to play it safe may have been on the biggest calls of the game.