I’m no football expert, so I don’t know for sure that, as the title of this article suggests, Mike Tomlin out-coached Bill Belichick in the Steelers 17-10 victory over the Patriots at Heinz Field on Sunday—but that’s what the people have been saying.
Ever since Pittsburgh’s epic, exciting and very necessary (and let’s not forget cathartic) Week 15 win, I’ve been hearing phrases like “got the best of” and “got the better of” and (and this is almost impossible to believe) “won the coaching battle over.”
If you fell asleep on Saturday night and didn’t wake up until about 8 p.m. on Sunday evening, you may have naturally assumed the name “Belichick” was the proper noun to begin each of those aforementioned phrases, while “Tomlin” was the proper noun that ended them.
But you’d be wrong...at least according to the experts, the people in the know, the talking heads, the ones who get paid for this sort of thing.
Again, I’m no X’s and O’s guy, same with Tomlin (according to many), so I have no idea what I’m talking about when I say Belichick, the genius, the defensive wizard, the guy who can take a roster of nothing and turn it into something, a man who has in no way shape or form ever benefited from the 18-year reign of quarterback Tom Brady, was out-foxed by Tomlin, a cheerleader, a player’s coach, a man who only wins because of his exceptional talent that is the best in the league (except for the defense), a poor game-day strategist, a man who lets his players run amok, a coach who is allergic to the film room.
But that’s what they’ve been saying.
What do they mean when they say Tomlin made great adjustments, that he showed tremendous instincts by pulling Artie Burns after the long touchdown by Chris Hogan early in the first quarter and replacing him with veteran Coty Sensabaugh? And was the Steelers touchdown drive that opened the game an indication Tomlin’s team was focused or was this just bad luck for the Patriots?
And those 14 penalties committed by New England, they couldn’t have been a result of poor discipline by the players and a lack of preparation by the coach, right? It’s insane to suggest such a thing, isn’t it?
How about the defensive game plan by the Steelers that made Brady look uncomfortable in the pocket and forced him into many odd and unBrady-like throws—including the red zone interception by absolute blessing Joe Haden? This had less to do with Tomlin and more to do with the number of candles on Brady’s last birthday cake (41), right?
What about the two receptions for 21 yards that tight end Rob Gronkowski accumulated on Sunday? This had to be the result of Gronk’s chronic injuries, right? I mean, there’s no way Tomlin could ever devise and oversee a game-plan that kept the big guy in check for 60 minutes, right?
Anyway, I don’t believe any of this “Tomlin out-coached Belichick” malarkey.
Tomlin takes his players to Dave and Busters during training camp. Belichick has his guys do extra reps of (insert any championship-winning activity here). Tomlin cuts guys who aren’t team players. Belichick picks them up and drains their brains of the knowledge he needs to gain that all-important edge.
Mike Tomlin really out-coached Bill Belichick in an important late-season game at Heinz Field? I’m calling shenanigans—or at least cheerleader’s luck.