‘They Assured Me It Would Be Run Right’: Teryl Austin Details Why He Listened To Minkah Fitzpatrick On Late-Game Call
Late in the Week 10 matchup at Acrisure Stadium against the Green Bay Packers with the game on the line, the Pittsburgh Steelers called a late timeout after giving the Green Bay Packers’ offense one look deep in the red zone.
Coming out of the timeout, the Steelers had a different look defensively, and it led to safety Damontae Kazee’s interception at the goal line.
That look the Steelers ultimately went with was due to the lobbying that safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive backs coach Grady Brown did to defensive coordinator Teryl Austin during the timeout, leading to the interception and the win.
For Austin, the decision to accept Fitzpatrick and Brown’s input and change the call was really simple: good coaches listen to the counsel of good players. Especially in that situation with the game on the line and the Steelers having a number of new players out on the field in the critical spot due to injuries.
“You get in those situations, I got a couple new guys in the secondary so some of the things that you work on they may not have worked on it. And so, my initial thought was, ‘Hey, let’s get ’em something where we can get ’em a little bit close.’ It takes a little bit of thinking out of it and we don’t have anybody that lines up in the wrong spots, but they assured me that they thought that the guys that they had in the room would be able to line up where they needed them,” Austin said of changing the call late in the game after Fitzpatrick and Brown lobbied him to do so, according to audio provided by the Steelers’ Media Relations department. “And so that’s why we ended up going with their suggestion. It was a good call and it’s like anything, man. When you have good players, you have good coaches, you have to listen to their counsel at times.
“And so I know what I thought, but they assured me that it would be run right, because if it wasn’t run right we’d had to get rid of everybody.”
The play was ultimately run right as the Steelers gave the Packers a look they hadn’t seen before, forcing quarterback Jordan Love into a bad throw right into the waiting hands of Kazee. The veteran safety picked off the pass and returned it near midfield before setting off a scuffle on the sideline after Green Bay offensive lineman Zach Tom hit him late out of bounds, leading to Kazee blasting special teams coach Danny Smith. Smith stated Thursday he suffered a torn rotator cuff on the hit.
As Austin stated though, good coaches when they have good players, instinctive player like a Minkah Fitzpatrick, you listen to their counseling. They are the eyes on the field. Even if Fitzpatrick is hurt and not playing, he still has a great feel for the game from the sideline.
As was previously wrote about, the initial call from Austin was designed to be man coverage in that situation. But then Fitzpatrick and Austin helped change the call during the timeout, leading to zone coverage with seven defenders lined up along the goal line with just four rushers. Ultimately, that four-man rush created pressure and led to a quick throw from Love, right to the waiting Kazee to seal the game.
Fitzpatrick reportedly borrowed the idea for the final call from a similar situation in 2020 on the final play on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, a play that Fitzpatrick broke up with a big hit just inside the goal line to seal a win.
Great recall from Fitzpatrick there in that situation, and great job on Austin listening to his talented player, changing the call and putting the defense in the best position possible to get out of the game with a win on the final play. That’s what good coaches do.