Confidential to the Pittsburgh Steelers: Stop Spiking the Ball!

Someone please tell Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers to stop squandering touchdown opportunities in the red zone. That's exactly what happened on Sunday Night Football as the Pittsburgh quarterback drove his team downfield to close the first half of his showdown with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. On first and goal-to-go with a timeout to burn, Roethlisberger hurried his unit to the line, and promptly wasted a play by firing the ball into the ground.

This is a terrible idea. Moreover, the fact that's it's terrible should be obvious to anyone who stops to think about it for a minute.

First of all, it's the first half. You're not in four-down territory, which means you're limiting your scoring potential to second and third downs. You can just use your timeout—because that's what it's there for—and have three (three!) chances to fire it into the end zone instead.

I suppose you can make the argument that keeping the timeout leaves you free to run the ball as well as pass it, which keeps the defense honest. I guess that's true, but any upside gained from that surely can't outweigh the harm done by flushing a goal-to-go play down the toilet.

For what it's worth, I'm howling at the moon a little bit; the drive ended in four-yard touchdown toss to tight end Heath Miller, so everything worked out in the end. This is a good thing for the Steelers in the short-term, but it will also ensure that no one in the Steelers camp questions the objectively irrational, mind-bogglingly self-defeating status quo.

And while I'm whining...someone tell the NFL that wacky facial hair does not equal charisma. Worst spokesperson ever, am I right?

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