Rule #16 states: "The only thing the prevent offense prevents you from doing is winning."
In the last series, Tomlin made it the LAST series by playing to win.
In the situation they are in, I personally would have taken advantage of how the defense would be playing run and use a play action pass. But at least to Tomlin's credit they understood the simple fact- a completed pass wins the game. Finito. No Fassel-prevent. No give the ball away one more time to see what happens. Not even a (Brian Westbrook) punt return either.
TOMLIN: "We weren't going to play not to lose."
RYAN: "I was actually shocked they didn't run the ball."
POLAMALU: "..he’s showing a lot of confidence in us either way. He’s telling the offense he believes they can go get it and he’s putting trust in the defense that we’re going to stop them even if the offense doesn’t do it.”
Pay particular attention to the comment by Polamalu. Players respect the move. They understand what it says to not be afraid to win the game right there. Put that in the context of watching a conservative coach who has to put it on the defense's tired shoulders yet one more time.
Make no mistake, Fassel and Coughlin are both cut from the same cloth. 9:27 of Q4. Just remember that. Everyone wants to give Coughlin credit for the Super Bowl when he tried his best to F*** it up. And let's remember this about Rex Ryan and his thinking.. he may motivate his players but he was in Prevent Offense mode and was giving the game away vs the Colts until a miracle kickoff return by Cromartie saved his a**. That was merely TWO GAMES AGO. He'd never even be in this situation if not for a very fortunate set of circumstances which belie the prevent. MAKE NO MISTAKE- the only thing the Prevent Offense prevents you from doing is winning the game.