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Troy Polamalu has been a great player in the NFL. Few players are more synonymous with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But, Troy, we beg of you: Can the leap.
As the Steelers were protecting a two-touchdown lead in the final two minutes of Monday night's victory, the Houston Texans had driven to the Steelers' 1-yard line on a DeAndre Hopkins 16-yard catch. As Hopkins was unable to score and the Texans were without timeouts, they were scrambling a bit, hoping to get up to the line and run a play to get into the end zone with as little time elapsed on the clock as possible.
Instead, Polamalu gave them a free timeout, essentially. He tried to time the snap and jump over the line — yeah, you've seen him do it before countless times — and short-circuit the play. We would have loved to hear Bob Uecker call this game ... juuuuuuust a bit offsides, maybe.
It was a dumb play. The Texans were frazzled. Maybe they would have spiked the ball to stop the clock and reset themselves. But that would have cost them a down in doing so. Polamalu did them a favor instead by jumping offsides and not only moving the ball a tad closer to the line of scrimmage, but saving that down and allowing the Texans to catch their collective breaths and get the proper play call in.
The Texans scored on the next play because of course they did. The break in the action from the penalty even allowed them to trot out J.J. Watt on the play as an eligible receiver, which might have drawn the Steelers' attention as Arian Foster caught the 1-yard score to make it a one-score game with 95 seconds remaining.
All for naught you say? Then you didn't watch the ensuing onsides kick — at least six different players touched the ball, and the Texans more than had their chances of recovering it. For crying out loud, for some reason the Steelers use noted stone-fingered receiver Darius Heyward-Bey on their "hands" team! That right there should have given the Texans the ball, maybe automatically.
So we can point to Polamalu's leap as an ill-timed, ill-fated decision and a maneuver he should consider retiring. Oh yes, he has pulled it off several times with incredible effect — he pulled it off in the epic body-bag game win over the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 AFC championship game and later used it again in 2010 famously against the Tennessee Titans for a sack on Kerry Collins.
Those plays were the stuff of Steelers lore. But it's time to retire Polamalu's signature move. It's no longer effective and hasn't been for the past few seasons. He's not the same player anymore, and the move could have cost his team the lead Monday night.
May it rest in glorious peace from here on out.
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