On December 17, 2010, I wrote a blog suggesting that Troy Polamalu should be taken to task for his risky touchdown dive against Cincinatti. The title of that blog was "Polamalu's TD dive hurt the Steelers in the long run".
I opined that Polamalu did the Steelers no favours by hurting himself in his dive for the endzone. He and his team would have been better served if he had allowed himself to be tackled on the three yard line and not risk the injury. After all, Pittsburgh probably would have scored anyway and they needed their all-pro safety healthy for the playoff run.
Now, I'm the first to admit when I'm wrong. And I am wrong much more often than I am right. But the recent news that Polamalu was indeed injured in that dive and that his injury negatively impacted his performance throughout the playoffs has vindicated my position in that earlier blog.
Yes, there are a lot of ifs to my argument. Maybe if Polamalu doesn't dive into the endzone, Cincinatti's defence comes up big and Pittsburgh loses that game. And maybe that loss knocks them out of the playoffs entirely.
It's also possible to argue that, even with an uninjured Polamalu, the Steelers still lose to the Packers in the Super Bowl.
But I'm not so sure. Polamalu was a complete non-factor against Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers did take apart the Steeler defense, especially in the first half. Maybe if Polamalu was more himself in that game, he makes a big play or two and the Steelers don't fall so far behind at the half.
Again, I'm not knocking Polamalu. He's an exceptional player and it's hard to question a guy who leaves it all on the field on every play. Who am I to tell him he should have thought before diving in the heat of battle?
But it just goes to prove once again that the difference between winning and losing in as competitive league like the NFL is razor thin: maybe as thin as a half-step in the speed of Troy Polamalu. Maybe as thin as the decision to dive into the endzone in a late season game and tweak an injury.