Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley got the lion’s share of the blame for Pittsburgh’s 23-20 overtime loss to Baltimore on Thursday, but maybe they shouldn’t true. True, it’s easy to second-guess some of Tomlin’s decisions and Haley’s play-calling, especially the quarterback keeper on 4th-and-2. But even after all that – not to mention two Josh Scobee missed field goals – the Steelers still had a chance to win the game. Only Michael Vick’s throw to Antonio Brown on 4th-and-1 was off the mark.
Yes, you could argue Haley just should have handed the ball to Le’Veon Bell, but was that 4th-and-1 pass really that bad of a call?
In a word, no.
“Antonio Brown is one of the five best players in the NFL – regardless os position,” 93.7 The Fan host Andrew Fillipponi said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “So if you’re telling me I have a play where one of the best players in football is open (and) I have a chance to get the ball to the best receiver in the NFL – better than Calvin Johnson, better than Larry Fitzgerald, better than Randall Cobb, better than Dez Bryant, better than those guys – and he’s open on 4th-and-1, that’s a play I want to run. The quarterback missed a throw that I would expect even a Josh McCown or a Luke McCown or a Brandon Weeden to make. I thought Vick had a decent game, but that throw – he has to make (it). And if on 4th-and-1, I have my best player wide open, then I think I called the right play. I just didn’t execute it properly.”
Vick played a solid game overall. He was 19-of-26 for 124 yards and a touchdown. He also ran nine times for 33 yards. But he didn’t take many shots downfield.
Fillipponi expects that to change in Week 5 in San Diego.
“I think that the conservative nature of the offense had a lot to do with the short week,” Fillipponi said. “They only practiced on Tuesday, and it wasn’t in pads. They had four days to prepare for the game and most of it was film study and that’s it. And I think their opinion against an 0-3 team at home was basically don’t blow the game – and I think Vick, for the most part, did that. If you’re +2 in turnovers at home with a backup quarterback, you sign up for that every time. For me, he did his job as a backup on a short week. I think next time they play – with the added bonus of more practice time and more continuity, et.c – I think the plays that you like for Vick are play-action. Let’s let Vick show his arm strength. I think we’ll see that against San Diego. I don’t know if it’s enough for them to win the next three games – or any of the next three games, but I do think with a full of week of practice and then some, Vick will air the ball out against San Diego. I do.”