I love Mike Tomlin's leadership and psychological approach to his team and the game.
One area where I feel he and his staff struggle is with clock management at the half and the end of game. Hell, I can live with throwing the ball, up by 4, on 3rd down right after the 2 minute warning. Granted a running play on 3rd and 2 not only would have chewed 40 seconds off of the clock, but, they likely would have converted anyway. I digress...
What I don't understand is having to call a timeout (their 2nd) AFTER an incomplete pass with less than 40 seconds to go in the half. What the hell is that? That carelessness cost them at least one extra scoring opportunity later in that drive (this was at the end of the first half). This is not the first time Tomlin, his staff and his players have shown below average recognition of the situation at hand.
Recall the second Baltimore game when Pittsburgh was called for DOG (WITH TO's IN HAND) when in field goal range and ended up punting, right before Baltimore's winning drive. A field goal there makes that Baltimore's "attempt at a tying drive."
I may be nitpicking here, but those type of mistakes are magnified in the playoffs, and I am now concerned (justifiably so) with how they will handle similar situations in the future.
With their QB and tailback injured, they are going to have to rely on Issac Redman, John Clay, the OL and, most importantly, their defense on the road in the playoffs (Mike Wallace catching a few passes that hit him in the hands would be nice too).
Unless Pittsburgh can come out on top in turnover differential, Denver is going to be a grind it out game just like today. The key is getting out to a lead of 4 or more, and, at that point, I really like their chances no matter what. I don't think Tebow can lead a touchdown drive on Pittsburgh's D when it really matters.
Speaking of the Pittsburgh D...how about that unit? Top pass defense in the league, in a league that has never seen passing efficiency and yardage like 2011, and Pittsburgh allows a paltry 170 some-odd yards per game? That's crazy. This was a defense that was openly mocked by some idiot named Warren Sapp earlier in the season. Just to remind the readers: The Human Doormat (aka. William Gay) is a starting member of this secondary.
Since the bye, Pittsburgh has allowed 48 points...8 points a game. Take out the San Francisco game and that number falls to 5.6. 5.6?!? This is no longer an anomaly. Statistically speaking, I don't recall a Steeler defense being this dominant in my lifetime. It's not like they are overwhelmingly healthy either. Woodley, Smith, and Hoke have all missed significant time. Polamalu has gotten even better as the season has progressed...he was EVERYWHERE against Cleveland.
And they get to face, unquestionably, the worst passing quarterback in the league? Win the turnover battle and they will cruise. Something like 27-6.