NFL throwback: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin takes a web page from Chuck Noll’s playbook


Mike Tomlin’s resolution to convey his offense again on the sphere on fourth-and-1 late in Sunday’s recreation towards the Cowboys has some historic context. In an identical place — and towards the identical opponent — late in Tremendous Bowl X, Steelers coach Chuck Noll additionally elected to ship his offense again on the sphere as a substitute of sending out his particular groups unit. 

To the chagrin of each Steelers coaches, Pittsburgh failed to select up the primary down on each events. Final Sunday, with the Steelers one first down away from victory, working again James Conner got here up quick after taking the handoff from Ben Roethlisberger. He really misplaced 4 yards on the play, because the Cowboys took possession of the ball at their very own 19-yard-line with 38 seconds left. In Tremendous Bowl X, with Pittsburgh clinging to a four-point lead over Dallas, Rocky Bleier fell nicely wanting choosing up the mandatory 9 yards (sure, Noll went for it on fourth-and-9) whereas giving the Cowboys the ball again at their very own 39-yard-line with 1:28 left. 

Each selections have been born from Pittsburgh’s earlier points on particular groups. Whereas Chris Boswell did make a franchise report 59-yard area objective simply earlier than halftime on Sunday, he additionally missed an additional level whereas having one other additional level try blocked. In Tremendous Bowl X, Pittsburgh punter Bobby Walden dropped the ball on a punt within the first half whereas practically having two different punts blocked. As a substitute of risking having one other particular groups gaffe, Tomlin hoped his offense would choose up the mandatory yard to win the sport. Noll’s resolution was much less about choosing up the primary down than it was avoiding a particular groups catastrophe that would have price his workforce a second consecutive Tremendous Bowl win. 

After falling quick on fourth down, Tomlin and Noll have been each compelled to look at the Cowboys throw the ball into Pittsburgh’s finish zone on the sport’s last play. Garrett Gilbert, after finishing a 32-yard move to rookie CeeDee Lamb, lofted a 23-yard move ultimately zone that was damaged up by security Minkah Fitzpatrick, preserving the Steelers’ 24-19 win. Talking of Fitzpatrick, his fourth quarter interception of Gilbert helped arrange Pittsburgh’s second of three scores in the course of the fourth quarter. 

In Tremendous Bowl X, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, standing his personal 38-yard-line, threw an finish zone move to Drew Pearson that was intercepted by Glen Edwards, because the Steelers joined the Packers and Dolphins as the primary franchises to win back-to-back Tremendous Bowls. 

In each video games, the play of the Steelers’ offense overshadowed the decisive stops by their protection. Roethlisberger, after momentarily leaving final Sunday’s recreation with a knee damage, returned to steer three fourth quarter scoring drives that included his game-winning landing move to Eric Ebron. In Tremendous Bowl X, Lynn Swann’s acrobatic catches — together with the game-winning, 64-yard landing move from Terry Bradshaw — proceed to reside on in NFL lore. Swann and Bradshaw would make extra magic on professional soccer’s greatest stage three years later, when the Steelers defeated the defending champion Cowboys in Tremendous Bowl XIII, 35-31. 

Whereas each offenses deserve credit score, the late recreation heroics of their defenses, together with the daring selections by Tomlin and Noll, additionally performed vital roles in Pittsburgh’s two victories over Dallas practically 45 years aside. 



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