Embarrassing. Ugly. Disgusting. Brutal. Call it what you want it but Sunday night’s loss to the New England Patriots was as bad as it gets. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 33-3 defeat at the hands of the Patriots was one of the worst losses in the Mike Tomlin era. Sunday’s loss called for a lot of panic and worry among the city of Pittsburgh but if there is one thing that has been more consistent than losses in Foxborough, it is the Steelers’ ability to bounce back after blowout losses.
Under Tomlin, the Steelers have now lost by 20 points or more eight times. While the city of Pittsburgh will have to wait until Sunday to see how the Steelers rebound after their latest beatdown, history shows that the team has typically responded with a vengeance. Since Tomlin took over in 2007, the Steelers are 6-1 following games in which they were defeated by 20 points or more.
The Steelers’ lone loss following a 20+ point beatdown come during Tomlin’s first season. After being defeated by the undefeated Patriots in New England, Tomlin’s team dropped one at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The lone flaw on Tomlin’s record, the Steelers have gone on to win every game that followed a crushing loss since his first year and they have done it in convincing fashion with an average margin of victory of 16.2 points.
It is obvious that Tomlin’s teams do not take getting embarrassed very lightly. Three of those six victories saw the Steelers win by three possessions or more while another victory saw them march into Kansas City and defeated the then undefeated Chiefs 19-13.
The Steelers have also found themselves in a similar position to the one they are in currently in. In their 2011 season opener, they were flat out dominated and embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens as they were defeated 35-7. The offense committed seven turnovers while the defense allowed 385 yards, their highest total of the season. Tomlin’s team then regrouped and came home to face off against the Seahawks and the Steelers paid their previous beatdown forward, defeating the Seahawks 24-0. Including the victory against the Seahawks, the Steelers went on to win 10 of their next 12 and finish the season 12-4.
It goes without saying that all the history in the world is not going to help the current Steelers’ team rebound after another embarrassing loss in Foxborough but there is reason for optimism. Wide receiver Donte Moncrief called Sunday’s loss a wakeup call and it certainly could be one. Tomlin has consistently found a way to rally his troops after they have lost a battle and with a victory this weekend, the Steelers can remind themselves and the rest of the NFL that one loss will not define them. They may have lost the battle but the Steelers rarely lose the war.
The bottom line is that there is no going back in time to erase Sunday’s result but the Steelers can move forward and moving forward just happens to be one aspect that Tomlin has excelled at during his career.
Losses By 20 Points Or More Under Mike Tomlin
2017: L 30-9 vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Response: W 19-13 @ Kansas City Chiefs
2016: L 34-3 @ the Philadelphia Eagles
Response: W 43-14 vs Kansas City Chiefs
2014: 26-6 Loss @ Baltimore Ravens
Response: W 37-19 @ Carolina Panthers
2014: L 31-10 @ Cleveland Browns
Response: W 30-23 vs Houston Texans
2013: L 55-31 @ New England Patriots
Response: W 23-10 vs Buffalo Bills
2011: L 35-7 @ Baltimore Ravens
Response: W 24-0 vs Seattle Seahawks
2007: L 34-13 @ New England Patriots
Response: L 29-22 vs Jacksonville Jaguars