clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Steelers Take Small Step and Giant Leap

I refuse to call this a "big win," simply because the phrases "big win" and big game" can be used every week (unless you have locked a playoff seed) and are therefore redundant and overused.  However, it is an understatement to say that certain elements of this game can bode very special harbingers of things to come.

While the true impetus for this win came once again from the NFL's finest defense, there is really nothing that General LeBeau and his troops do that surprise us anymore.  We have come to expect their performance, perhaps unfairly so, but they have proven our expectation time and time again.

I am much more excited about the offensive line, which to me is like the Prodigal Son. The offensive line does not deserve our praise more than the defense, but I will give it anyway.  That part of our game strayed and has been much maligned, by none more so than yours truly.  I welcome them back with open arms and shower them with praise.  The line created gaps between the tackles and sealed the edge for our running backs.  The line also made Ben feel like the quarterback he is capable of in passing plays.  Yes, the ball came out of Ben's hands wobbly most of the game, but consider he was throwing in a steady downpour.  More importantly, consider he was throwing while not under duress.

Mind you, none other than Bill Belichick, a four-star general in his own right, was scheming against them.  This was not the Cincinnati Bengals.  Various snippets from Mike Tomlin on occasion suggest he is acutely aware of public opinion by media and fans, perhaps even oversensitive.  Be that as it may, there is evidence that he uses this sensitivity to make his team better.

Picture yourself in the special teams meeting where Tomlin comes in and drills the players over and over how none of "us" believes they can tackle anyone.  Tomlin doesn't tear them down directly.  He uses "us."  Brilliant strategy on his part, and it worked (knock on wood).  Tomlin's next task was the offensive line.  I can just hear him pounding away that "we" don't think they can block.  Tomlin plays the good cop while we are the bad cop.

Why do I think all this?  In the post-game press conference, after a blowout road win against the Great Belichick, Tomlin gave a telling anser to an innocent question:  "How would you assess your running game tonight?"  Tomlin's answer was that his assessment didn't matter since "You guys are just going to write that we can't run the ball anyway."  Very interesting response.  Perhaps some of you feel like Tomlin is too sensitive and that professional athletes should not need psychology or motivation.  I beg to differ.  Professional athletes are not robots.  They are human beings like you and I.  Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers feel the weight of Steeler Nation.  Any means of motivation that Tomlin uses is OK in my book.

We talked before about improving in increments.  Just give me one more inch this week.  We clearly saw that inch against San Diego, despite the quirk of not getting the ball into the end zone.  The Bengals are still the Bengals, so that inch may not have been celebrated, but it is undeniable that we saw another couple inches Sunday in Foxboro.

While the future, of course, is completely unknown, I don't think there is a single one of us who doesn't believe that much of our hopes hinge upon that O-line giving us one more inch each week we take the field.  That is not to suggest that we don't have other work.  Dropped passes and senseless penalties are sure tokens on the train to disaster.  They need to be corrected, to be sure.  In the meantime, I have just one message for our Prodigal Son, though admittedly much easier said than done.  Dallas is coming to town.  One more inch, baby, just one more inch.