Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin doesn't regret the decision to go for an all-out blitz, playing cover-zero with no safety help on the play that allowed Antonio Brown to gallop to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Austin said Monday he stands by his decision, noting he was trying to knock the Steelers out of what would have been about a 49-yard game-winning field goal attempt.
"The one thing I don't ever want to do, I don't want to second-guess myself, I don't want our players to second-guess themselves when they're out there playing," Austin said, via the team's official website. "So we're going to play aggressively. We're playing to win. And I thought at that point, that gave us the best chance to win. I didn't want to leave it into the field goal kicker's hands and allow him because it's not every day you block a field goal ... I think that's how you have to play in this league. If you play and you play conservatively all the time, you may not reap the rewards you want."
Austin's team got burned on the play by a rub/pick route that freed Brown for the 31-yard score and 28-21 victory.
"I wanted to force the hand, and again, they made a better play," Austin said. "They had a better call than mine. I didn't want to sit back, I didn't want to play passive, we had played some coverage, tried to bring some pressures through that whole series ... I knew they had three timeouts and I wanted to make sure they didn't get any more yards. They were right at the fringe of where we thought they were able to kick it, and my thing is I wanted to get a negative play, I wanted to go after them and make them have to make a decision. It didn't work this time."
In a league in which coaches often take the conservative approach for fear of getting burned, Austin's candidness is welcome.
Perhaps a struggling Chris Boswell would have yanked a long field goal attempt had Austin played conservatively. Perhaps Brown still makes a ridiculous play anyway. Perhaps Boswell nails another game-winner nonetheless. Perhaps we're all living in one giant simulation, and the game makers just like toying with us.