About the time this article is being written, most members of the Pittsburgh Steelers are at home with their family, friends or teammates. Sitting down and realizing what just took place at Heinz Field Sunday.
Thinking how the season wasn’t supposed to end this way.
It was supposed to be the Steelers knocking off the Patriots en route to a Super Bowl appearance, capped off by the team’s 7th Lombardi trophy for Dan Rooney and injured teammate Ryan Shazier.
Instead, they have to realize their promising season, which ended in a 13-3 completion, just ended in a one-and-done loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 45-42 loss will sting enough, but this Steelers team has to learn from this loss. While most assumed they would learn after the beat down by the Patriots in the 2017 AFC Championship game, it seems this team never really got the hint.
While words are just words, one offensive leader is not happy with some of his teammates’ behavior leading up to the playoff game:
Steelers G David DeCastron not happy with a few teammates disrespecting Jags: “it’s embarrassing. It really is It just blows my mind. They beat us 30-9 [Oct. 9], we played like crap and we want to talk about New England!”— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) January 15, 2018
More Steelers DeCastro on teammates talking Patriots before they played Jags:— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) January 15, 2018
“It’s just stupid. It’s just not what you do. You don’t need to give a team like that more bulletin board material.”
If that wasn’t enough, while players log in to their respective social media platforms in the coming days, they will not just see plenty of fan displeasure with their performances, but plenty of yapping from the team who just ended their season.
The team who played with a gigantic chip on their shoulder.
The team who kept relatively quiet, as the underdog, and let the Steelers, who were supposed to be the more experienced team, do all the talking — providing bulletin board material.
As an outsider, reading these quotes get me fired up. I can’t even imagine what it would do to the players who were stunned at Heinz Field.
#Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey: "I was wondering why they were so confident because we stomped their ass last time. We knew we was going to do the same this time. we were confident coming into the game. I can’t tell you why they were so confident. But that went out the door real quick"— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) January 14, 2018
#Jaguars Barry Church— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) January 14, 2018
"All we did was feed on the fuel that everybody was providing, the media, everybody was talking about how they’re going to run through us, it’s not going to be like last week, Blake Bortles this, Blake Bortles that… all he did was dominate their defense."
Jalen Ramsey: "They asked for us, and they got it. Let's keep it real, we should have blown them out." #Jaguars #DTWD— J.P. Shadrick (@jpshadrick) January 14, 2018
Jacksonville players outside their Lockerroom yelling “Where’s Mitchell... I want to see Mike Mitchell right now”— Rich Walsh KDKA (@RichieWalsh) January 14, 2018
Per ESPN's Dan Graziano, Jaguars players could be heard in the hall shouting "Where's Mitchell? Bring Mike out here!"— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) January 14, 2018
Jackson on Bell's tweet--"They said they were gonna be in Boston. So I guess they are gonna be in Boston watching us. We'll send them Jags jerseys so they can support us."— Tim Benz (@TimBenzPGH) January 14, 2018
Calais Campbell on The Steelers: "Hey look, they're a great team and.." Marcell Dareus jumps in..."Stop saying they are a great team. They just got their ass whooped"— Tim Benz (@TimBenzPGH) January 14, 2018
There is a lesson to be had here, but will the Steelers actually listen, and learn?
This team is a mirror image of their head coach. Mike Tomlin is an emotional man, and he coaches this way. He has always been this way, and has been successful throughout his career. He is the anti-Bill Belichick, and this makes plenty of fans upset, wishing Tomlin were a little more hard nosed, and a little less chest-pounding.
But this team is just as emotional as their leader. They wear their emotions on their sleeves. Mike Mitchell spouting off about the Patriots sounds familiar doesn’t it? Like Tomlin’s comments to Tony Dungy before the Week 15 meeting with New England.
This entire organization has a lot to learn, and the Jaguars gave them yet another lesson on Sunday in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs. Sometimes it is okay to keep your nose to the grindstone, and just do the work necessary to succeed.
For the record, this team didn’t lose because of what was said before the game.
This team didn’t lose because of bravado.
This team lost because of lack of execution, and poor coaching. And those two factors can be influenced by the comments and overall over-confidence in themselves.
The Jaguars taught them a lesson, like the Patriots did a year before, but the question remains — will they ever learn? If they don’t, I fear the outcome of the future will look at lot more like what was seen Sunday, and less like Super Bowl parades rolling through downtown Pittsburgh.