The Baltimore Ravens better be ready for anything on Sunday.
I can see it now.
The Steelers, trailing by one point with three seconds left in the game, face a fourth and goal at the 10-yard line. But instead of sending Jeff Reed in to kick a game-winning chip-shot field goal, coach Mike Tomlin decides to go for the touchdown.
Tomlin showed he is willing to go against the standard coaching charts by calling for an onside kick with the lead last week against the Green Bay Packers. He may continue to think out of the box.
He may be telling his kids they can go swimming immediately after eating, or that they can sit close to the television set. He may even have put a star on the middle of his Christmas tree.
Tomlin has come under heavy criticism for his decision last week. That's what happens when a coach makes what seems to be a crazy call, and it doesn't work.
But after analyzing the whole situation, one could make an argument that the onside kick actually won the game for the Steelers. The way the Steelers defense was playing, and the way it has been playing in fourth quarters of games this season, the Packers offense could have easily run off the four minutes on the clock, kicked a game-winning field goal or scored a touchdown and given Ben Roethlisberger no time for his heroics.
The Packers, with the shorter field, scored rather quickly and gave the Steelers offense two minutes to win the game.
The Steelers, after losing so many games in the fourth quarter this year, needed some kind of spark. The onside kick, even though it was not successful, was the type of decision that can help a team break from its routine.
If Tomlin should be criticized for anything, it's that he has let his defense get old and not have sufficient depth to help offset key injuries.
That's why he called for the onside kick - he showed a lack of faith in his defense.
Coaches are paid big money, and many times decisions must come from the gut. If coaches had to follow the standard charts all the time, then you or I could memorize them and be coaching geniuses.
So be prepared for something new on Sunday.
I can see it now.
The game goes to sudden-death overtime, and the Steelers win the coin toss. Tomlin, thinking out of the box, decides to kick the ball and let his defense try and stop the Ravens first.
OK, maybe that's not a good example.
Buck Frank can be reached at 96-7461 or firstname.lastname@example.org.