Once again, it doesn’t seem like a Tuesday unless we are graced with words from Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin from his weekly press conference. Since it is unlikely we will hear from coach Tomlin again until the draft, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting quotes Tomlin has given us this past season.
We’ve experienced several “Throwback Tomlin Tuesday” quotes so far this off-season. So far we have re-lived the following:
A nose guard is like Blockbuster video
We weren’t ready for prime time tonight
So that’s how you lay an egg
As we continue trough the 2019 season, let’s go back to the press conference following the Steelers’ home opener in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. In his opening statement, coach Tomlin discussed the numerous injuries from the game, but did not let it be an excuse for their performance.
“We lost a number of guys in this game,” Tomlin stated, “But that wasn’t the reason we didn’t win this game. We were fully capable with the guys that were on the field. We didn’t make enough plays to be quite honest with you. We didn’t play clean enough, particularly in some moments.”
Looking at the Week 2 loss in retrospect after the entire 2019 season, it was a very different game for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger does not return at halftime only for his season to be done without another play. Mason Rudolph comes out firing the ball right away only to have the ball go through the hands of Donte Moncrief for an interception. The Steelers hand around the entire game only for the defense to not get the stop needed at the end of the game. Some of these problems, especially the last one, don’t seem to fit into the narrative of the rest of the Steelers season.
“We’ve got to get better,” Tomlin continued. “We accept responsibility for it; we’re not looking to make excuses. There are certain things we did in the game that we cannot do. We got off the field and got a penalty on a field goal and allowed those guys to extend the drive and get a four-point swing. We got DPI down the field. We had opportunities down the field on the other side. A ball went through our hands for an interception.”
With the Steelers only falling by two points, there are so many things in this game which could have given the Steelers a much-needed victory for their 2019 playoff chances. In the second quarter, the Steelers had held the Seahawks to a 46-yard field goal only for there to be a 15-yard penalty assessed on Daniel McCullers for unnecessary roughness. Apparently McCullers made too much contact with the long snapper in his attempt to block the field-goal, a play which ultimately led to the Steelers surrendering a touchdown on the drive.
As for the defensive pass interference penalty which was not called but reversed on a challenge, it created a standard which affected the entire NFL for weeks. The overturn of the call was such a horrendous decision the NFL rarely deviated from a call on the field for the next 6 to 8 weeks. It was ultimately a game changing play which was decided in New York and not on Heinz Field.
Even if the call had gone the Steelers way, there were plenty of opportunities the Steelers had which they did not seize in order to pull out the victory.
“We’ve got to make plays,” Tomlin confessed. “The guys that represented us on the field are fully capable of that. We didn’t make enough of them; that’s why we lost the game. We had our chances, not because of the injuries.”
There were no excuses from Coach Tomlin after the Steelers dropped their home opener. The officiating, the injuries, or anything else which factored in to how the game played out was not going to give the Steelers a scapegoat. It came down to them making plays and executing on the field. And after falling to 0-2, the Steelers had their backs against the wall with concerns for their franchise quarterback‘s availability moving forward.
“We understand the position were in. We understand the negativity that comes with it. We better absorb it. We better get singularly focused for our next opportunity and control the things that we can control. But today it’s painful, as it should be.”
At the time Mike Tomlin stated these words, he may not have fully understood how different the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers would be throughout the season. When he spoke to the media two days later, Ben Roethlisberger was out for the season. But not all hope was lost as the Steelers added an All-Pro safety to help bring them back to be a dominating defense in the Steel City.
On defense, making plays was about to become the signature of the 2019 Steelers.