By now, you’ve already learned that Pittsburgh beat Tennessee 13-10 (OT) in a four-star NFL opener last night. Noteworthy items from the game: Al Michaels’ hair looks even faker this year, and Troy Polamalu was injured in the first half and is expected to miss 3-6 weeks after spraining his MCL.
With the score tied late in the fourth, 10-10, Hines Ward fumbled deep in Titans territory for what could have been a game-changing turnover. A score from Ward–or even a “knee” and subsequent field goal–would have locked up a win for the Steelers. But after recovering the fumble, Tennessee, pinned at their own 4-yard line with less than a minute to play, chose instead to run out the clock and seek his team’s fortunes in overtime. The call seemed like a no-brainer at the time, even after Pittsburgh marched the field and scored on the extra period’s only offensive drive. But in settling for OT, Titans head coach Jeff Fisher might have cost his team their best chance to win.
A lot of people hate the NFL’s overtime format–where the first team to score wins, regardless of whether each team gets a chance to play on offense–but it is what it is and we won’t debate that here. But the one thing for which nobody ever gives the NFL credit is that their extra frame creates more incentive to win games in regulation than any other.
True, Tennessee had no possession in OT, but Jeff Fisher was aware of that possibility, as he was also certainly aware that his defense had no answer for Ben Roethlisberger [363 yards passing, 1 TD, 2 picks]. Instead of working with that possession he did have, Fisher forfeited it and hung his hopes for a win on a coin toss. And nothing about the ending to last night’s game was more unfair than that.