I see the safe play as being a moderately better choice if the LOS was the 45 instead of the 20.
Bingo. Have to consider field position there. You don't say it to your players, but if I'm coaching, my mindset it that if we don't get a first down in that situation, there's a high probablility we lose the game. Forget time, timeouts, etc. Call your best play to pick up 7 yards.
If you're determined to run, fine. At least let Ben run a QB draw after selling the pass. Make the defense react to something.
Who ultimately made that playcall? Yes, it's up to the HC, esp. on a timeout, but I think Arians talked him into it. I have no evidence to go on other than that, of the three people involved in that decision, he's the most likely to think that's good strategy. No way Ben wants to run that, and Tomlin has shown the tendency to gamble - going for it on 4th, the 2 pt conversion, etc.
As much as Arians has done some good things, he makes bad decisions at the worst possible time. You want to cut him some slack and give him more time? OK, but how long to you stick with the kicker that's pretty good in the first 3 quarters, but when the game is on the line, doesn't deliver? That's how I see Arians.
On the QB draw by Garrard - there was some criticism of LeBeau on here for not being prepared. I think they were prepared. The LBs didn't bail out; they were waiting. It was well blocked and Garrard found the hole. At least that's what I thought until I saw the replays today. Then I saw just how blatant the hold on Harrison was. Harrison read the play and started to come over to make the tackle. As he's crossing by the Olineman, mysteriously his whole body stops without the lineman getting a shoulder on him. It was obvious and I don't see how it could have been missed, especially since it was exactly where Garrard was running. Horrible.
As far as the season as a whole. Yes, went about as expected; record was where I figured we'd be. Playoffs - probably couldn't expect to go much farther than we did. Some players had very good years; others not so much. But, it's frustrating to lose winnable games, and we had a few of them. Maybe we had some close wins that the other team felt the same way, but for the most part when we won, we won handily.
I still see it as disappointing because I felt we had the core in place to make a sustained run at multiple SB appearances. Maybe we still do; but this run is now 4 years old. Can we retool the Oline soon enough to get back on top? Probably, since Ben, FWP, Troy, Santonio, Heat are still young. Can we keep the core together and healthy long enough to surge again? Remains to be seen.
Hopefully we can retool the lines and have a great '08.