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Steelers notebook: Tomlin 'probably' would go for TD again

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin talks with Troy Polamalu in the fourth quarter Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, 3:06 p.m.

The Steelers' narrow escape in snowy Green Bay remained the hot topic of conversation Monday, especially coach Mike Tomlin's decision to forego a kneel-down near the Packers' goal line.

Tomlin said he would do it again. Probably.

“I just had a concern with kneeling under the circumstances with the weather conditions being what they were,” he said. “(Packers kicker Mason Crosby) had just had a kick blocked on that end of the field. To be honest, it wasn't anything we did. I just think it was a low-hit ball. ... Also, when they utilized their last time out, I was comfortable getting our defense out on the field.”

Instead of killing the clock and kicking a chip-shot field goal with the score tied 31-31 to end the game, the Steelers scored a touchdown with 1:25 remaining. Micah Hyde returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards to the Steelers' 31-yard line. The Packers got to the 1 but lost 5 yards on a penalty, and Matt Flynn's pass to Jarrett Boykin fell incomplete as time expired.

“If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably do it the same,” Tomlin said. “Obviously, if I knew they'd return the kickoff 70 yards, I'd probably have a different approach. But I don't anticipate them doing that, although they did.”

Despite three hours of sleep, Tomlin was in a good mood thanks to the win that kept the Steelers' playoff hopes alive.

“We still have a horse in this race,” he said.

But the debate continued. Tomlin was asked if a shotgun snap, which the Steelers used on Le'Veon Bell's deciding 1-yard touchdown run, posed as much risk as a kick. Tomlin's cheery disposition wavered a bit.

“There's a lot less room for error on PAT and field goal snapping than on shotgun snapping,” he said. “A shotgun snap can be wobbly, it can be off the location, but it's not gonna disturb the flow or the rhythm of the play at all. What I'm talking about in terms of field goals, you're talking about 1.0 or 1.2 seconds to get that ball on the ground and kick it. That is a totally different animal.”

The questions persisted. Finally, a frustrated Tomlin said: “I can't give you any more answers than what I've given you. Obviously, you and I disagree on it. That is your right. But it doesn't change my perspective on what I did in that stadium.”

Injury report

Tomlin said receiver Emmanuel Sanders is questionable for Sunday's finale at home against Cleveland with a lateral meniscus (knee) injury.

Linebacker Terence Garvin is questionable with a knee sprain. Receiver Markus Wheaton has a broken finger but will play.

The coach added that linebacker Jason Worilds suffered an abdominal injury, but his status was not given.

Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

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