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Mike Tomlin defends Big Ben's fake spike vs. Pats

In hindsight, Ben Roethlisberger regrets not taking matters into this own hands and spiking the ball on third down to stop the clock at the end of Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots.

Following the Pittsburgh Steelers' 27-24 loss, Roethlisberger said coaches told him to attempt to get a pass rather than spike the ball to set up a game-tying field goal. Instead, Big Ben tossed a wayward pass into traffic that was tipped and intercepted to seal the game for New England.

On Tuesday during his weekly radio interview with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, the quarterback said he shouldn't have listened to those on the sideline.

"I'll take the blame for the INT at the end of the game," Roethlisberger said, adding that in hindsight he should have listed to himself and not the coaches, via NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala.

Coach Mike Tomlin -- who spent most of his afternoon press conference answering questions about Roethlisberger's radio comments -- said the Steelers were trying to win the game in regulation, but noted the quarterback has earned the leeway to make his own decisions.

"I find comforting the fact that 7 is my quarterback," Tomlin said. "If everybody on the field is uncomfortable, then that's advantage Pittsburgh Steelers. And that's why we chose not to spike the ball. We wanted to try to win that game in regulation. We knew that a spike, a fake spike, an incomplete pass and then running your field goal unit out, there were seconds there that I wanted to take advantage of that's why we instructed him not to spike it. Given the opportunity to do that again, I'd do it again."

The fake spike than led to the interception wasn't the only play which Roethlisberger and Tomlin expounded on Tuesday:

  1. Big Ben said the Steelerswere still debating on whether to call timeout after JuJu Smith-Schuster's long catch and run, but referee Tony Corrente assumed he was calling for a stoppage. While video clearly showed Roethlisberger signaling, Tomlin said the quarterback was merely asking the sideline if he should use the team's final timeout.
  1. After the Jesse James touchdown was overturned, Roethlisberger threw a short pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey who was tackled in bounds. Big Ben lamented that the Steelers didn't have more than one play called in that scenario: "I wish we would've called two plays. I wish we had two plays ready to go," he said, via Kinkhabwala.

Tomlin said one reason for the confusion was the possibility for several different outcomes of the reviewed play.

"There was a scenario that transpired that was ruled incomplete but it was also scenario that was probably more critical and more time specific that was being discussed," Tomlin said. "It was being discussed by us. It was presented to us by the officials during the review process that if he ruled completed catch down in bounds that was probably the most significant element of the discussion as opposed to last play.

"While we were in review, that was being discussed because if his knee was down in the field of play, it would be a 10 second run off, they'd spot the ball, run the clock and we'd be faced with a running clock in that circumstance. This was probably the most significant element of the discussion when they were in review and that was presented to us by one of the officials. ... He gave us an alert that may include a 10 second run off in a running clock. So obviously, 10 second run off, running clock that's the scenario that maintained most of our attention in terms of what could happen as they came out of review. What did happen as they came out of review obviously is probably the least of the scenarios from my expectations which was if [they] ruled an incomplete pass."

  1. Roethlisberger joked that Tomlin might "be crazy enough to go for it" had he spiked the ball.

The coach noted he always tries to win, but said in this case he probably would have kicked the field goal and gone to overtime.

  1. Big Ben insisted the more he re-watches the overturned touchdown, the more he's convinced James caught the ball and scored:

"I felt like he caught it, brought it into his body and then reached out," he said. "And yeah when it hit the ground it came out, but I felt the reach was a football move."

Tomlin noted that the catch rule is something the competition committee should look at revising this offseason.

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