The Pittsburgh Steelers just wrapped up their fifth game on the road of the season, coming out of Jacksonville with a win against a team that beat them at home twice just a year ago. They have not lost outside of their own stadium at all this year. In fact, they have not lost in quite a while—over a year—and it goes back even further than that.
With Sunday’s victory, the Steelers are not 15-1-1 in games on the road going back to the middle of the 2016 season, and even their one loss only occurred in overtime. Many of those wins haven’t been pretty, but they’ve consistently managed to get the job done.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about what the key to their success on the road has been in recent years, but he stressed that there isn’t one—or at least that he doesn’t have one. Not that is unique to his coaching style.
“I’m not going to act like we’re doing something unique. We’re not”, he told reporters earlier today during his pre-game press conference. “We focus on the variables that are in our control. We openly talk about things that we need to combat: environmental things, crowd noise, and so forth. We’ve got certain things that we utilize systematic things that we utilize to combat those things”.
That would include things like practicing with simulated crowd noise or running a silent count. Basically anything that would pertain to how a game on the road differs from one on the road. Yet there isn’t anything that he has his team doing that is out of the ordinary.
“It’s not anything that anybody else isn’t doing, to be quite honest with you”, Tomlin said of his approach for preparing his team for a road trip. “We’re just taking them one at a time”. For what it’s worth, free safety Sean Davis said after Sunday’s game that one thing Tomlin does is to emphasize throughout the week with a road game that location can’t determine a game.
While the Steelers will certainly celebrate their ability to take their success on the road, right now they are eyeing the potential for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs this season. They currently own the second-best record in the AFC a 7-2-1, behind only the Kansas City Chiefs’ 9-2.
The only help Pittsburgh would need is for the Chiefs to lose another game. The problem is that Kansas City has a pretty soft remaining schedule over the final five weeks, the only serious obstacle being a home game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Of course, playing at home didn’t help them in the postseason last year.