Even if the process is opaque and inconsistent, on the whole, Tomlin is more aggressive than a typical coach in a way that plays to his team’s strengths. He should stay that course on Sunday.
It would be wise for the Steelers to get aggressive with their two-point decisions in the hopes of creating an advantage against the Patriots. As the underdogs, they will have to take risks to try to win. It’s better to take that risk on a play worth two points with all of your offensive weapons on the field than it is on a fake punt or field goal.
The one other concern with Tomlin is that he may get carried away with challenges, although that’s less of a concern under the league’s modern rules. He made a terrible mistake with challenges earlier in his career during a playoff game against the Ravens in 2010.
Tomlin challenged a bad spot on the Ravens’ return of the opening kickoff, and while he was right, the ball moved only from the Baltimore 49-yard line to its 35-yard line. It was a modest gain with 56 minutes of time to challenge left. Later in the first quarter, the Ravens recovered a Ben Roethlisberger fumble for a touchdown on a close play Tomlin had to challenge. He lost and was then out of challenges with three quarters to go.
Bill Belichick has four Super Bowl titles and is 24-10 in the playoffs since joining the Patriots in 2000.
Belichick, meanwhile, is just about the gold standard of NFL coaches in terms of decision-making, with only John Harbaugh of the Ravens looming as an obviously more aggressive coach. Belichick obviously has a strong weapon in Tom Brady and his ability to convert on fourth-and-short, either with concise passing or with one of Brady’s many successful sneaks. The future Hall of Famer is now 107-for-119 (90.0 percent) trying to convert on third or fourth down with 2 yards or less to go with his legs.