Notes from the North

And another thing.

Why does Troy Polamalu get off so easy?

Don't get me wrong, I love the guy. He's a sure Hall of Famer and a fantastic player. I'd take him over just about any safety you can name, past or present.

But how come nobody's getting on his case for his acrobatic dive into the endzone in last week's game? Several quarterbacks (see Aaron Rodgers) were at least mildly chastized in the media for taking unnecessary hits in an effort to make an extra yard or two but Polamalu gets a free pass for his ridiculous (but fantastic) flight over the pylon.

It's just been announced that Polamalu is likely to have to miss this weekend's game as a result of an injury he aggravated when he landed.

I wonder what Steeler coaches, Steeler players and Steeler fans would have done if they had been given the choice: you can have Polamalu score that spectacular touchdown but then lose him for at least one game with an injury OR you can have the ball, first and ten on the four yard line, and have Polamalu continue to play without interruption for the next game and the rest of the season?

I'm willing to bet most people would choose the latter option. After all, there's a very good chance the Pittsburgh offense would punch the ball in from the four for the touchdown anyway. I think Steeler faithful would rather have a healthy Polamalu and a avery good chance at a touchdown than an injured safety and a certain major.

Maybe it's too much to ask either Polamalu or Rodgers to consider, in the heat of the action, that their teams would be better off if they take the safer route on a given play. But it's strange to me that, where Rodgers and other players are criticized for taking the risk, Polamalu gets a free pass.

Comment #1 has been removed
December 18, 2010  06:02 PM ET

Nice blog. I'm a Steelers fan; but where are the players that score and just hand the ball to the ref - like Barry Sanders used to do?

I believe this is the play he is talking about:

It wasn't an excessive celebration, he had to dive if he wanted to get into the end zone.

December 18, 2010  06:12 PM ET

Hindsight 20/20, the Steelers could have won without that touchdown. The final game score was 7-23.

But... look at the scoreboard at the time of the play. Cincinnati was winning 7-0. Polamalu had the opportunity to tie the game. Why should he give Cincinnati's defense an opportunity to hold Pittsburgh to 3?

Polamalu is a tough player and part of a tough defense. These guys take pride in physical contact and they don't get many opportunities to score touchdowns. It just isn't part of Polamalu's game to wimp out with the endzone so close.

What's the alternative? He makes a "business decision" and avoids contact. The NFL has seen guys like that before - to this day Deion Sanders is remembered as a wimp. I really can't see Polamalu allowing himself to fall into that category.

December 18, 2010  06:13 PM ET

What's the alternative? He makes a "business decision" and avoids contact. The NFL has seen guys like that before - to this day Deion Sanders is remembered as a wimp. I really can't see Polamalu allowing himself to fall into that category.

Admittedly, the Deion Sanders thing is a stretch of an example. But it highlights the other extreme.

December 18, 2010  06:17 PM ET

Polamalu was hurt when Palmer landed on the back of his leg, which probably would have happened even if he hadn't attempted to dive. Also, the comment that the offense probably would have scored anyway may be a bit off. At the time of that play, the Steelers offense had only scored one TD in nearly 9 quarters, and they were down 7-0. In fact in that same game the Offense sputtered out in the red zone on more than one occasion, so you'll have to excuse the defenders for feeling that if they have a shot to get into in end zone they should try to capitalize on it.

The main reason QBs are chastised for trying to get the extra yard is because there is a rule that allows them to hook slide and avoid contact.

December 19, 2010  11:32 AM ET

Not sliding to get a few extra yards with zero chance of scoring, and diving for the end zone are two different things. I would not have a problem with Rodgers' (or any other quarterback) not sliding if he were running for the score. I also wouldn't have a problem if Rodgers wasn't a quarterback, and not sliding. I could see not sliding in the Post season, in a close game, and with time winding down.


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