What Are They, Alabama?

Of the many questions surrounding the Steelers' loss Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens, Mike Prisuta takes on Mike Tomlin's decision concerning Shaun Suisham.

Today should have been about heroes, James Harrison, Ben Roethlisberger, etc.

Today should have been about celebrating having evened the score against the Hated Ravens.

Today should have been about contemplating a firm grip on first place in the AFC North and potential home-field advantage in the conference.

But it's not.

Instead, the Steelers managed to serve up another how'd-that-happen Monday.

It wasn't 35-7 this time, but this one is just as hard to swallow.

It's harder still to understand given what transpired at the end of Sunday night's come-from-ahead, 23-20 loss to Baltimore.

Ben Roethlisberger and Mewelde Moore "weren't on the same page" on a critical third-and-5 from the Ravens' 29-yard line with 2:37 remaining, which is troubling.

William Gay and Ryan Clark were both beaten over the top on what became the game-winning touchdown, which is disappointing.

But what's absolutely unacceptable is the way the Steelers botched a 47-yard field goal attempt and wound up punting instead of potentially taking a seven-point lead just prior to what turned out to be the game-winning drive.

That delay-of-game penalty wasn't some sort of half-baked ploy to get the Ravens to jump.

"No, it definitely wasn't," offensive tackle Max Starks said. "It was well within Shaun (Suisham)'s range. We got on the field, we thought they were going to push (re-set) the clock, but they didn't. We had to take a delay.

"I don't think anybody was looking at the clock at the moment. That stuff happens."

Isn't that comforting?

Mike Tomlin confirmed that the initial intent was to kick the field goal, and took responsibility for what transpired. Tomlin said he began pondering the field-position factor and the presence of new holder Jeremy Kapinos and ultimately thought punting the Ravens to the 8-yard line might have been the best thing for the Steelers.

What he should have said is he no longer has confidence in Suisham.

Suisham has to know that by now, as must the rest of the Steelers.

And for the Steelers, that's potentially a bigger problem than losing a game on a field goal they never kicked.

I could have understood Tomlin opting to punt. But what can't be understood or accepted is the indecision at a critical juncture. Figure out what you're going to do on fourth down prior to third down. Or, failing that, take a timeout following third down and figure it out then.

Of course, that's easier said than done when you're considering the involvement of a kicker who had missed a potentially pivotal kick the previous week against New England, one whose numbers are about what Jeff Reed's were when Reed got gassed a year ago (Suisham is 15-for-20; Reed was 15-for-22).

That's the problem the Steelers need to solve before they can straighten out their game-management issues. They need to either re-commit to Suisham or get themselves another kicker.

There might be another 47-yarder late that potentially decides or at least extends a game. And after botching the last attempt there's even less of a margin for error.


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