Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Monday he "probably" would devise a similar game plan for the Denver Broncos if he had to do it over again.
Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow made several big plays in the passing game Sunday to defeat the Steelers, 29-23, in overtime. They came when Steelers cornerbacks were in man-to-man coverage with little or no help from safeties.
That was the case on the game's final play when Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas with the safeties close to the line of scrimmage in run support. Tomlin indicated that the safeties were utilized more in run support because of Tebow's ability to break contain and run via scrambles or designed plays.
"The responsibilities associated with defending their run gaps kind of dictate at times how you attack them," Tomlin said Monday at his news conference Monday at the Steelers training facility on the South Side. "Obviously, they made some plays on us. In hindsight, you analyze with a fine-tooth comb some of the things you did. But I think really your options are limited in terms of how you attack them because of the run gap responsibilities."
Tomlin said it was not a foreign concept for the Steelers to place man-to-man responsibilities on their corners in late-game situations without help from safeties.
"We had done it in several instances leading up to that point," Tomlin said. "It wasn't zero [coverage]. It was a zone coverage that was inverted so the safeties could fit in the run box. So it was an inverted zone coverage where the safeties were close to the line of scrimmage so they could play alley responsibilities in terms of the run game, and they hit a nice play-action on us."
Was that too high risk?
"Not really," he said. "We've done that and done it quite a bit, particularly against wildcat and wildcat type of attacks and plays."
Tomlin said he expects offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to return next season.
"I anticipate it, but of course, we all understand what the end of the season is about," Tomlin said. "Movement is apart of it in today's NFL. We're going to work to maintain continuity as we always do. We believe that's a benefit to us. But we also understand things happen and we'll deal with those things as they arise."
While Tomlin hopes to maintain coaching continuity he acknowledged that some players played their final games as Steelers. Several veterans could be cut or asked to return for a reduced salary.
"There's always going to be changes," Tomlin said. "I'm not going to sit here and pretend there's not going to be changes. To what extent, I'm not ready to address."
A fire that left Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson severely burned started in the kitchen of his Seven Fields townhouse, state fire marshal Luke Nelson said Monday.
Wilson, 50, is hospitalized at UPMC Mercy, where investigators have not been able to speak with him about the early Friday morning fire, the cause of which remains under investigation, said Nelson, of the Butler barracks.
Team sources have said Wilson suffered burns over 30-50 percent of his body, but investigators still aren't sure why he was so badly hurt.
Nelson said the fire started near a stove and was contained to the kitchen, though the townhouse on Jameson Way also had much smoke and water damage.
Neighbors said they banged on the door for what seemed like several minutes before Wilson emerged, bloodied, burned and disoriented. He muttered that he was OK, but was unable to offer them an explanation for how the fire started or what he was doing at the time.
The fire appears to be an accident, Nelson said, adding that investigators are making progress toward determining a cause.
The Steelers-Broncos game was the highest-rated wild-card game in 24 years, according to early Nielsen numbers.
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @rayfitt1. Sadie Gurman contributed to this report.