If Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has proved anything in the last two games, it’s that he trust his players. Even if it means going against conventional wisdom to get the W.
On Monday night, with 5 seconds remaining in regulation, the ball on the one yard line, down three points and one timeout, Coach Tomlin decided to go for the win against the San Diego Chargers. Unlike the game versus the Baltimore Ravens, Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley elected to put the ball in the hands of Pittsburgh’s best player, Le’Veon Bell. It paid off with the 24-20 win and a 3-2 record.
After losing to the Ravens following a couple of questionable 4th down calls, no one would blame Tomlin for playing it safe and choosing to kick the field goal to play in overtime. But, what he did was send a message to his team, “we play to win.”
If the Black & Gold are able to win the AFC North and make a serious run at a Super Bowl, Monday night’s game will serve as the turning point.
While the defense employed a bend but don’t break mentality for much of the game giving up 356 passing yards to Philip Rivers, it did come up with huge stops when needed. They held the Chargers offense to 4/14 on third downs, and only gave up 52 yards in total rushing. Plus, Antwon Blake’s 3rd quarter 70 yard pick six gave the Steelers the 10-7 lead, and the shot in the arm the team lacked for most of the night.
However, if this team is to go far this season, they’ll need to find a way to slow down the opponents tight ends. Antonio Gates caught 9 passes for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first game back from a PED suspension. Covering tight ends has been a problem for the Black & Gold through five games, and they’re going to see many more talented ones in the weeks to come. It’s a weakness right now that could be a detriment down the stretch.
Next up for the Steelers, former AFC North foe Carson Palmer and the 4-1 Arizona Cardinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm Sunday at Heinz Field.