Down three. Five seconds left. At the 1. Zero hesitations.
"It was time to go to the mattresses," said Tomlin of his decision, using a mafia term for gang war, made famous by The Godfather.
His players agreed.
After rising from the ashes of his crumbling play early in the game, Mike Vick led the Steelers down the field on the final drive, highlighted by two third-down conversions -- the second of which the veteran scampered for 24 yards. A penalty on San Diego placed the ball at the 1 and stopped the clock with five seconds remaining, allowing the Steelers to keep their final timeout.
Some will question the savviness of running the Wildcat in that situation. After Bell hesitated, to let the hole open up, the clock would have ran out before the Steelers could use the last timeout. But, in football, to the aggressor usually go the spoils and Bell stretched for the end zone ending the game.
What is not questionable was getting the ball to the best player on the field to win the game. A week after Bell wasn't part a fourth-down failure that cost his team the victory, Tomlin did what every good coach should do: stuck it in the belly of his best player.
"We did what was required to win," Tomlin said. "Guys just didn't let go of the rope."