More Coaches Facing Caldwell's Choice

A week after Indianapolis' Jim Caldwell sparked a firestorm of controversy by scuttling his team's bid for perfection, numerous coaches will face the same decision Caldwell did during their regular-season finales.

Do they continue to follow the immortal words of Herm Edwards, "You play to win the game!"? Or do they subscribe to the opposite philosophy, believing "It don't mean a thing if you don't win that ring"?

The choices made, like Caldwell's, affect more than one team.

Indianapolis' decision to trot out the "B" team lifted the Jets from near extinction to having a superb shot at the playoffs. The Jets' chances are buoyed by the fact that their opponent this week, the Bengals, have virtually nothing to play for.

Cincinnati has clinched either the third or fourth seed in the AFC playoffs, meaning it won't get a first-round bye. It would be hard to blame Bengals coach Marvin Lewis if he decides his troops need rest more than they need work on Sunday night.

New England coach Bill Belichick will be in the same position earlier in the day when his team plays at Houston. The Patriots are also a division champ that will play in the first round of the postseason.

Asked if he's weighed resting Tom Brady & Co., Belichick replied, "Honestly, I haven't really given it any thought at all.

"I think every team in this league does the same thing that we do. They do what's best for their football team. What other interest do we have? What other interest does any other team have? Whatever's best for that team or organization, that's what you have the right to do. Every team has that right."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin agrees with Belichick's assessment, even if it could work to his team's detriment. Pittsburgh's complicated playoff scenario involves winning Sunday's game against Miami and having the right combination of other contenders fall.

"I trust that those coaches are going to do what they feel is best for their football teams," Tomlin said of rivals such as Lewis and Belichick. "I'm going to do what's best for mine. Very rarely do I pass judgment on decision-making of other coaches in regards to other teams, because I don't have a pulse on their group, what they need. I'm sure those guys do."

Yet his team's pulse would flat-line if enough opposing coaches decide to shut it down.


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