There are times when how you handle defeat or adversity says more about leadership and character than anything else. This can be said about many occupations and leadership opportunities in today's society, but the same is true about life in the NFL. For Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, this facet of his coaching style has often gone unnoticed.
It has been well documented that Tomlin has yet to suffer a losing record since being hired in 2007, but what's often left out is how rare it is for Tomlin's football team to lose back-to-back football games. With the Steelers dropping their home opener to the New England Patriots, fans are concerned that an 0-2 start could be on the horizon when the San Francisco 49ers come to Heinz Field this Sunday. History states that the Steelers are more likely to reach 1-1 than to fall to 0-2.
In Tomlin's career as a head coach, there have only been four seasons where Tomlin's teams have lost consecutive games throughout the season.
In his first season, the Steelers dropped back-to-back games against the Patriots and Jaguars in Weeks 14 and 15. In his second season, Tomlin's team didn't lose consecutive games during the entire season. In 2009, the team dropped back-to-back games twice. Losing to the Bears and Bengals in Weeks 2 and 3, and the dreaded "unleash hell" stretch of games which extended from Weeks 10-14.
In 2010 and 2011, the Steelers played two seasons without losing two games in a row, but in 2012 that trend ended as the team lost to the Ravens and Browns in consecutive weeks, then three in a row to the Chargers, Cowboys and Bengals in Weeks 14-16. The 2013 season was one to forget, as the team started off 0-4, then dropped back-to-back games later in the season on two separate occasions. In Tomlin's most recent season of 2014, the team didn't lose consecutive games during the entire year.
Is Tomlin's record perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but one thing he and his team's record does prove is that he's more than capable of having his team bounce back after even the most difficult defeat. No coach can boast that they've never lost two games in a row, nor can a coach control situations in a game such as turnovers and injuries.
Mike Tomlin has his deficiencies, but getting his team to bounce back typically isn't one of them. As the 49ers prepare for the Steelers this week, this trend would show the Steelers have a better chance of winning than dropping back-to-back games.