At its core, football is said to be about blocking and tackling. That is of course a gross oversimplification of the variety of nuances that we see unfold week in and week out, but by and large, those are the essential elements of play.
With that said, it doesn’t account for the human element, as well. It’s one thing to execute a block or a tackle, but there is also a drive and a determination behind not just one play, but strings of plays in succession. You often hear coaches talk about imposing your will on your opponent, of keeping your composure, and things of that nature. They don’t show up in playbooks or tutorials.
And for Mike Tomlin, these are the things that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been managing well in recent weeks, a key element of their ability to rattle off four consecutive wins and take themselves north of .500 for the first time in 2019.
His team has taken down winning teams in each of the past two weeks, including the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, holding their offense to just three points, even if the Rams’ defense got the better of their offense for most of the evening.
“It wasn’t perfect in a lot of fronts, but the will that was displayed was, and the grit that was displayed was”, Tomlin told reporters yesterday at the outset of his pre-game press conference in preparation for Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns.
“I just thought collectively we all stayed in the fight. There are going to be games like that when you’re playing good people, and obviously the Rams, defending NFC representatives in the last Super Bowl, is a really good team”, he went on. “Hopefully we’re able to learn from that experience and we’re able to reproduce the results of that as we move forward because we’ve got some stiff challenges that lie ahead”.
The next challenge is to take what they’ve been doing in Heinz Field and to translate that inside of opposing stadiums, because their next two games, and the majority of their remaining schedule, will be on the road.
The Steelers have stood up at home during this three-game stand, taking down the Rams, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Miami Dolphins during that time, but there’s something about playing in front of your home crowd that makes it easier to rebound from adverse situations in-game.