In a season full of twists, turns and drama, the latest story, which wasn’t injury related, to come out of the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room occurred before the Steelers played the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week 12.
You remember, right?
The interview with Tony Dungy when Mike Tomlin told his former boss how he is looking ahead to the New England Patriots game in Week 15, and how this specific game could ultimately dictate where the next meeting between the two teams, meaning in the playoffs, would be held.
While Tomlin told reporters his response stemmed from Dungy requesting he give a “non-coach speak” type answer, and Tomlin delivered in a big way, but the backlash was unending.
Fans and media took the opportunity to lambaste Tomlin for saying what everyone was likely thinking. You heard comments suggesting the Steelers will lose their next two games vs. the Bengals and Ravens because the leader of the team is too busy thinking about New England. Or my personal favorite, how Bill Belichick would never do such a thing.
When the dust finally settled, the Steelers had football games to play, and the team did nothing but back up their coach. The team didn’t allow the storyline to be “Mike Tomlin overlooks ______ before Patriots come to town”. No, the team was able to scratch and claw their way to an 11-2 record before New England invades Heinz Field in Week 15.
Was it pretty? Absolutely not, but nothing about this season has been pretty. In the early portions of the regular season the defense was playing lights out, many would suggest above their heads, with the offense sputtering along. In the second half of the season the script has been flipped. The offense is playing up to expectations, while the defense has fallen back to mediocrity.
Not a comforting sight, when thinking of the prospects of Tom Brady coming to town, but if this Steelers team has proven anything throughout this 8-game winning streak, it is they have each other’s backs — including their head coach. Now, the team is able to put all of their attention on the Patriots on Monday night when they play in Miami before heading to Pittsburgh on a short week this upcoming Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.
It is unlikely many give the Steelers much of a chance this week, but I have a feeling that is a narrative Tomlin, and company, are comfortable with. The Steelers thrive on the us-against-the-world mentality, and the team hasn’t been the underdogs but once this season, the trip to Arrowhead Stadium to play the then undefeated Chiefs.
The Steelers are a streaky team, and one which hasn’t put a full 4-quarter performance on the field to date, but vs. the Patriots at home sounds like a perfect time to do just that, doesn’t it?