This Weekend in NFL Stupid highlights the dumbest decisions in football throughout the season. This week, we take aim at a smart coach who had a really stupid moment.

Mike Tomlin’s brain fart

I hate having to do this to Mike Tomlin, mainly because I admire his willingness to buck longtime coaching trends and take an aggressive, more statistically sensible approach on offense. His Pittsburgh Steelers go for two more than anybody else in football, and by a wide margin. They don’t mess around.

But on Sunday, Tomlin screwed up.

Maybe it came as a result of skittishness with franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sidelined, but there’s still no excuse for what Tomlin did in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s matchup with the New England Patriots.

See, the shorthanded Steelers actually still had a chance to upset New England, but they couldn’t afford any game-management gaffes. With the Steelers trailing a superior team by 11 points with nine minutes remaining, the margin for those types of errors had disappeared. But on a 4th-and-3 from the New England 36-yard line, Tomlin sent out his kicker for a 54-yard field goal attempt.

This despite the fact that…

  • Based on attempts from 2015 and 2016, field goals from that exact distance are about a 64 percent proposition.
  • No field goal of that length had been made in the 16-year history of Heinz Field. Kickers were 0-for-6 from that distance or beyond.
  • Kicker Chris Boswell had never made or even attempted a field goal from beyond 51 yards.

With those first three factors in mind, you’d have to assume that the odds of making the kick were well below 50 percent, while the recent historical odds of converting on fourth down are about 54 percent. Throw in that success in the first scenario only gets you to within eight points, while success in the second scenario gives you a chance to close the gap to just three points, and this was an obvious, no-brainer decision.

Tomlin made the wrong call, Boswell missed by a mile and the game was pretty much over.

Other stupid things from Week 7

** Atlanta not challenging this obvious catch from Julio Jones on a fourth-quarter drive that might have put the game away…

julio

A few plays later, Matt Ryan threw an interception which led the the game-tying field goal. The Falcons would lose in overtime.

** Ryan’s ensuing interception…

ryan

It’s first down, man. And you’re leading. Know when to fold ’em.

** Everything to do with the Arizona Cardinals

Refusing to burn their timeouts on defense and give the offense one final shot with the score tied at six and 30 seconds left in regulation… Failing to adjust to the fact the Seahawks found a vulnerability in their field goal and punt protection… Using up all of their overtime timeouts, costing them a chance to call timeout and give New York extra time to consider reviewing what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown when David Johnson was ruled down at the 1-yard line late in overtime… Not having a timeout to call and instead taking a delay-of-game penalty just before Chandler Catanzaro missed what would have been the game-winning field goal (it likely would have been good from five yards closer).

The Cardinals had no business not winning that game. Stupidity cost them in a major way.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at CBSSports.com, Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.