It happend nearly five months ago, but Wednesday was my first chance to ask Brian Schottenheimer about the AFC Championship Game -- specifically, the four ill-fated plays at the Steelers' goal line that sparked so much criticism.
It's a little ridiculous that we're talking about this in June, but it is what it is. Besides, what else is there to talk about?
Schottenheimer, emerging from his off-season cocoon, was good enough to look back, offering some insight into the decisions. This might be painful for some fans -- just when you think the healing is complete -- but the Jets' offensive coordinator has some interesting thoughts.
First down from the 2: Shonn Greene runs up the middle for one yard.
Schottenheimer: "We went in there with a plan, and the plan was, the first time we got into goal line, we wanted to try to catch them off balance. We ran a trick formation (on first down). We had Shonn and L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson) in the game. We had a shift with late motion. We tried a trap play; the trap play worked pretty well for us."
Second down from the 1: Mark Sanchez, under pressure, throws incomplete to Dustin Keller on play-action.
Schottenheimer: "We already talked about it as a staff: If we could get down close, we wanted to run a play-action pass because they were such a good run defense and we knew they’d be selling out. Unfortunately, we had some head-set communication problems. We actually considered a timeout, but Mark felt good that he could get the play run. He did a great job of getting the play run, but because we were rushed the run-sell wasn’t very good."
Third down from the 1: Sanchez throws incomplete, batted down by OLB LaMarr Woodley, on a quick slant to Santonio Holmes.
Schottenheimer: "We tried to spread them out. We went with a red-zone play. We tried to change it up. You have to give the defense a lot of credit. LaMarr Woodley made a Pro Bowl play. We tried to isolate Santonio on the weak side. He jumped up and batted the ball."
A week later at the Super Bowl, Woodley told me he knew it was a pass because RT Wayne Hunter tipped the play, setting in a two-point stance. Asked if they tipped the play, Schottenheimer said, "I don't think so. LaMarr obviously saw something because he didn’t rush, but we give our tackles a lot of freedom to get into a two-point stance."
Fourth down from the 1: Tomlinson runs up the middle for no gain.
Schottenheimer: "We went wth our 'Gotta-have-it' call, a play that won the divisional-round game for us last year against San Diego. We’ve run it a ton of times."
Reflecting on the entire sequence, Schottenheimer said, "I really wouldn’t have done anything different. I remember a couple of years ago, when I had (Brett) Favre. I ran it four straight times against New England and I was called conservative because I wouldn’t let Brett Favre pass. When things work as a coordinator, you look good. When they don’t, you look bad. Unfortunately, in this situation, I have to take the bullet that we didn’t get it."