Tomlin actually has a losing record in the playoffs dating back to 2011. That stretch includes losses to Tim Tebow and Blake Bortles, but Tomlin’s latest playoff blunder against the Cleveland Browns might be his most embarrassing yet.
Mike Tomlin isn’t getting it done in the playoffs
Looking at Mike Tomlin’s coaching resume as a whole, it’s easy to peg him as one of the greatest head coaches in the NFL over the past two decades. He’s never had a losing record as the head coach of the Steelers, and he won a Super Bowl in just his second season at the helm. Two years later, he led Pittsburgh to another Super Bowl appearance before falling to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
But since that second championship appearance, Tomlin has been underwhelming in the postseason. In 2011, he lost to Tim Tebow and the 8-8 Broncos in the wild-card round. After missing the playoffs in the next two seasons, Tomlin was bounced in the wild-card round again in 2013 by the Baltimore Ravens.
In 2017, Tomlin’s Steelers went 13-3 but gave up 45 points to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars at home in another one-and-done playoff appearance. Pittsburgh missed the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, but it returned this season only to get embarrassed at home by the Browns.
Tomlin made some questionable coaching decisions against the Browns
Heading into the wild-card game against the Browns on Sunday night, the Steelers had everything going for them. Their starters were healthy and rested, they were playing at home, the Browns had limited practice time all week, and Cleveland didn’t even have their head coach available for the game.
The Steelers closed as six-point favorites in the game, but they might as well have been six-point underdogs. Cleveland jumped all over an underprepared Steelers team from the opening whistle and cruised to a 48-37 victory.
Throughout the game, Tomlin made some questionable coaching decisions as Pittsburgh tried to claw back in the game. Down 28-0 early in the second quarter, Tomlin decided to punt on fourth-and-9 from the Cleveland 38-yard line. The Steelers didn’t get any points on the next drive.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Tomlin made the inexplicable choice to punt again on fourth-and-1 from the Steelers’ 46-yard line with his team trailing by just 12 points. The Browns scored a touchdown to put the game out of reach six plays later.
Mike Tomlin was out-coached by a man sitting on his couch 130 miles away
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski couldn’t even be on the sidelines for his team’s first playoff game in nearly 20 years. He watched the game from his basement couch 130 miles away from Heinz Field, but he still somehow outcoached Mike Tomlin en route to a win.
Stefanski couldn’t even be with his team all week leading up to the wild-card game. The Browns couldn’t practice in person until two days before the matchup, but their head coach still drew up the perfect game plan to take down their AFC North rivals.
Stefanski made things easy on Baker Mayfield by focusing on quick passes and getting the ball to his star running backs in space. His defense made Sunday a nightmare for Ben Roethlisberger, as it picked off the future Hall of Famer four times.
Whether Tomlin took the Browns lightly or just failed to get his team prepared, he was outcoached by a man sitting on his couch in another city Sunday night.