The tweet made me laugh out loud on the Steeler post game show. In the wake of the New England’s overtime coin flip debacle in New York, a straw grasping Steeler fan suggested that New England screwed up the coin flip on purpose against the Jets to help New York make the post-season while simultaneously blocking the Steelers from making the playoffs-

Right. The reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots…who own the Steelers in Foxborough…who beat them there earlier this year…who have defeated the Steelers twice in the post season since the turn of the century… intentionally tried to help their hated division rivals into the playoffs, and keep the Steelers out because Pittsburgh is a club that is so damned scary?!

We all got drunk on this whole “Pittsburgh is the team no one wants to play in the post season” thing way too quickly didn’t we? Because after a putrid 20-17 loss in Baltimore Sunday, “the team no one wants to play in the AFC playoffs” likely won’t even be in the AFC playoffs.

Let’s flash back to a long time ago…as in last Sunday. That was when the Steelers had just completed a huge comeback against Denver to sew up a two game sweep against the AFC West leading Broncos and the AFC North leading Bengals. Way back then we had dreams of not only making a wild card slot dancing through our heads, but also getting past New England and going to the Super Bowl.

We all should have known better. We’ve all seen this act before from the Mike Tomlin coached Steelers. Beat a couple good teams. Then lose to a bad one. Have a season altering win sapped the very next week by a playoff altering loss.

For all the good Mike Tomlin has done as head coach, this is the bad. Yes. He’s won a Super Bowl. Yes. He’s been to another. No. He’s never had a losing season. But his career has been pockmarked by these hideous losses to substandard teams in crucial situations.

The five game losing streak to non playoff teams in 2009. The loss to an 8-8 Tim Tebow Bronco team in the playoffs. Tampa last year. That unforgivable home loss to San Diego in December of 2012. Missteps vs Oakland, Cleveland and Tennessee over the years.

But this one may be the worst of the bunch. The reason is that this team really should be better than that. Flawed though these 2015 Steelers are, they are legitimately as good as most of the potential playoff teams in the AFC. The evidence of that being wins over Cincinnati and Denver and Indianapolis, plus a victory over NFC powerhouse Arizona without Ben Roethlisberger.

After the defeat, Mike Tomlin said “We learned a hard lesson today.” That seemed to be in regards to losing the turnover battle. If history is any precedent, the Steelers will ignore that lesson too. Because they’ve never learned lessons from previous failures under Tomlin when it comes to taking care of business against lesser competition.


In his weekly Tuesday press conference, Tomlin was snide in dismissing a question about whether he’d address the players about having a “let down” game against Baltimore after those two thrilling wins vs the Bengals and Broncos. “I won’t. I’m sure you guys will.”

Well, Mike, maybe you should do so instead of us in the media. Don’t let us do your job for you. Because clearly when we ask them about it, they don’t seem to grasp how history tends to repeat itself.

But now you’ll get your wish. Because, again, the media will be asking the Steeler players about why they are always so bad against lesser competition. Again, we loathsome scribes and talking heads will be responsible for planting the acorn in your players’ heads about why they choke so consistently against inferior teams. So go ahead and lay the blame at our feet. But you are the one with “L’s” stacking up on your resume when they shouldn’t be occurring, Mike.

Or, instead of blaming reporters, maybe you could look within? Look at yourself in terms of preparation. Look at your coordinators in terms of game plans. Look at your players in terms of focus and determination. See if those elements are issues as to why your team fails so often against organizations that usually lose to opposing clubs of a lesser stature than yours.

Because no one in the media is going to get fired over your team’s failures in these types of situations, Mike. In fact, some might suspect it’s better business for us. But it’s bad business for a coach to go a fifth straight year without a playoff win while employing a potential Hall of Fame quarterback. And like it or not, Mike Tomlin is on the verge of living that reality.

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