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Mike Tomlin on Steelers Week 1 loss: ‘We stunk up the joint’

Step 1: Own it. Step 2: Fix it.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin looks on during the regular season NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10, 2023 at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA. Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin addressed the media Tuesday ahead of the team’s Week 2 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. Before jumping into their next game, however, Tomlin first acknowledged the absolute mess that was their Week 1 performance against the San Francisco 49ers.

“We stunk up the joint,” Tomlin said. “Myself included, first and foremost. I think part of moving on from it is first just acknowledging that component of it.”

“You’ve got to carry that stitch for a while when you have a performance like that. Coupled with the fact that it was opening weekend kind of adds to the sting, but we’re big boys. We can take it. We better roll our sleeves up, man, and shift our focus toward our next opportunity. We better not forget what happened. We better learn lessons from it.”

Tomlin noted that the team spent time Monday analyzing the tape, as always, to review their processes, what happened, why it happened, and how the team’s preparation led to the failures on the field. “It’s planning. It’s coaching. It’s playing. We’re all in this together, man, that’s just this game at this level.”

“The chief ill was possession down football,” Tomlin said. “When you’re not playing possession down football, you don’t give yourself a chance to establish rhythm, to establish the run game, to highlight certain matchup components that you might like to diversify your attack.”

Tomlin noted a lack of communication on the defense that led to some failures, particularly in containing 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey. For the special teams, “We didn’t do a good enough job of punting the football,” which was a particularly interesting note, given the team elected to keep two punters at the roster cut deadline, including Pressley Harvin III, who averaged just 35.5 net yards per punt Sunday, with just one of six punts falling inside the 49ers’ 20-yard line.

“There were some positives, but no need to mention them in this setting. We’re not looking to feel good about ourselves; we’re looking to get right.”