Every team has to overcome adversity during the season. But maybe none have had to, and done so, more than this year’s Pittsburgh Steelers. There were the suspensions: Martavis Bryant for the year, Le’Veon Bell for three games. Joey Porter’s arrest. Antonio Brown’s video that left everyone clutching their pearls. Stuff we’ve forgotten about, like James Harrison’s Wild West standoff with Roger Goodell.
And of course, injuries, of which their have been many.
But here the Steelers stand, one game away from the Super Bowl. The team’s ability to overcome all that and their current success is no coincidence at least, not in the mind of Mike Tomlin.
“I think ultimately, that’s what defines you,” Tomlin told reporters on overcoming adversity, following today’s practice. “The journey that is a season is going to have some ups and downs and how you respond to it individually and collectively often times determine our fate. The guys have done a really good job of absorbing or learning and pressing forward. So I’ve been pleased with that.”
Some of that is created by the culture and standard Tomlin has set. The next-man-up mentality and the feeling that everyone has a role, whether they’re a franchise player or practice squader. Part of that is from the veteran leadership too from sources like Ben Roethlisberger, Ramon Foster, and William Gay. And part of that is a young group of players rising to the moment in tough times. That includes the rookie trio on defense – Artie Burns, Sean Davis, and Javon Hargrave – who Tomlin has been pleased with.
“I’m very confident and I get that confidence based on what I’ve seen. I’ve been in two playoff stadiums with them already and they’ve handled themselves very well.”
Davis was notable in the nail-biting win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He got hit with a penalty that kept the Chiefs’ final drive alive and had a heart to heart moment with Tomlin on the sideline, who told him there were still plays that had to be made. Davis did jut that, breaking up the two-point conversion that essentially won Pittsburgh the game.
If they do that again Sunday, they’ll go to the Super Bowl.