John Steigerwald: Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi could learn a lot from Pete Carroll |
John Steigerwald, Columnist

John Steigerwald: Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi could learn a lot from Pete Carroll

John Steigerwald
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi leaves the field for during a weather delay against Penn State on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in State College.

I wonder if Pat Narduzzi watched the Pittsburgh Steelers-Seattle Seahawks game.

If he did, he saw a coach, the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, play to win, which is exactly what Narduzzi didn’t do when his Pitt team had fourth-and-goal at the Penn State 1 on Saturday.

Narduzzi’s Pitt team was down 17-10 with less than five minutes to play in the game and decided to try a chip-shot field goal.

No good.

Maybe you noticed what Pete Carroll did Sunday with two minutes to go in the game when his Seahawks had the ball on fourth-and-1 at the Steelers 33-yard line with a two-point lead.

He ran it up the middle for 2 yards and a first down. Then, he killed the clock and left Heinz Field with a 28-26 win.

Lots of coaches would have tried the 50-yard field goal and forced their opponent to score a touchdown to beat them.

Carroll said to himself and his team that if they get 1 yard, they win. To not go for the first down there would be playing not to lose.

That’s what Narduzzi did Saturday.

Yeah, what’s supposed to be automatic three points from 19 yards is a much better bet than the 50-yarder Carroll could have tried.

But there’s no way anybody can make sense of what Narduzzi did. If the field goal had been good, his defense still would have needed to keep Penn State from scoring, and his offense would have to get a touchdown.

What made Narduzzi believe that, some time in the next three and a half minutes, his offense was going to get closer to the end zone than the 1-yard line?

He should have told his players if they couldn’t get 1 yard on four tries they didn’t deserve to win the game.

He didn’t try and deserved to lose.

A week earlier, the Steelers, down 20-0 in Foxborough, had fourth-and-goal at the Patriots 1-yard line on their first possession of the second half.

Mike Tomlin went for the three points, and he may as well have gone to the bus and headed to the airport. The Steelers were done for the day.

Pittsburgh’s two major football coaches haven’t done their teams any favors lately.

Carroll told his team and the Steelers they couldn’t be stopped when they needed 1 yard to win the game.

Give me a coach who plays to win every time.

• The Steelers are 0-2 and two games behind the Baltimore Ravens, who beat Arizona, 23-17, for their second win. Lamar Jackson is 8-1 in his nine regular-season starts going back to last season.

He’s going to be quite the challenge for the Steelers defense.

How often does a quarterback put up a passer rating over 100 and run for more than 100 yards?

Jackson was 24 for 37 for 272 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. That added up to a 104.6 rating.

He also ran for 120 yards on 16 attempts.

Last week against Miami, he was 17 for 20 for 324 yards and five touchdowns. The Dolphins and the Cardinals are bad teams, but those are some spectacular numbers.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Ravens won the AFC North last season.

The Steelers are in a hole that keeps most teams from making the playoffs. Recent history says they have a little better than a 10% chance after an 0-2 start.

And they may not know if they have their starting quarterback until he has an MRI on his injured elbow Tuesday.

Keep in mind that this is a team that is 2-6 in its last eight games with its starting quarterback.


Correction: An earlier version of this column had the incorrect score and time left on the clock when Pitt attempted a field goal in the fourth quarterback.

John Steigerwald is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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