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The Steelers are still in the hunt for the playoffs, and that’s on brand for Mike Tomlin

The Steelers are still in the hunt for a playoff spot with two games to go. Surprised? You wouldn’t be if you’ve been paying attention to the career of head coach Mike Tomlin.

Las Vegas Raiders v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Tell me if you’ve heard this before: “I think it’s time that the Mike Tomlin era ends in Pittsburgh.”

Obviously, you’ve heard that before, you’ve read that before, and you may have even said and/or typed that before.

Much like when little kids talk about being superheroes, the firing of Mike Tomlin is a topic that we simply can’t get enough of.

OK, now, tell me if you’ve heard this before: “The Steelers begin today’s game already eliminated from playoff contention.” If that sounds totally foreign to you, it’s because it’s only been heard/said/typed one time since Week 1 of the 2007 season, aka Mike Tomlin’s first game as the Steelers head coach.

Pittsburgh was dangerously close to being eliminated from playoff contention with two weeks to go in the 2022 regular season, thanks to a 10-6 deficit vs. the Las Vegas Raiders last Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium. Fortunately, quarterback Kenny Pickett, the rookie from the University of Pittsburgh, had one touchdown drive in him, which he saved until the very end.

Pickett hit receiver George Pickens for a 14-yard score with 46 seconds left, and that proved to be the game-winner in a 13-10 come-from-behind victory that kept the Steelers' slight playoff chances alive.

Believe it or not, those odds got just a bit better throughout the course of Week 16, as the Jets, Patriots, Dolphins, Browns, Titans and Raiders (obviously) all lost.

Pittsburgh is now in 11th place in the standings and still needs a ton of help (in addition to winning its own games, of course), but it sure beats the heck out of where this football team was on Halloween.

Having said all of that, are you really surprised that the Steelers have gone from 2-6 and in serious contention for a top draft pick heading into the bye to 7-8 and still in the hunt for a postseason berth heading into Week 17?

You wouldn’t be if you’ve been paying attention. This is almost identical to 2013 when the Steelers went from 2-6 to 8-8 and were a Ryan Succop missed field goal away from making the playoffs.

This is similar to what the Steelers did in 2019 when they fell to 1-4 after the season-ending injury to Ben Roethlisberger but still managed to rattle off seven wins in eight games and had the inside track on a wildcard berth before collapsing under the weight of an anemic offense, led by both Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges.

What about last year when the Steelers started 1-3, never truly looked like a good team, but still managed to sneak into the postseason with a 9-7-1 record?

This is what the Steelers do under Mike Tomlin

You can talk about his weaknesses all you want—and they’re certainly a more popular topic than his good traits—but a Tomlin strength is unquestionably the ability to keep his guys fighting and believing until the very end, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the odds.

The Steelers may actually be eliminated from playoff contention by the time their game against the Ravens kicks off this coming Sunday night at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they’re still in the hunt.

It would be totally on brand for a Mike Tomlin-coached team to remain in the playoff hunt until the final moments of Week 18.

This is what Mike Tomlin does.