Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert like to say that ‘we are what our record says we are’—except they only actually say this after a ‘bad’ season by their standards in which they fail to reach the postseason. When they are actually being successful, they don’t run around talking about it.
And so for the first time in franchise history, they enter a week as the only unbeaten team remaining in the NFL, with a 6-0 record, with the chance of tying their own franchise record for the longest winning streak to start a season, matching the 7-0 start of the 1978 season that led to a 14-2 record and a then-record third Lombardi Trophy.
And the team is…excited by it? Kind of? I mean, they are certainly glad that they have not lost a game. But they are not necessarily thrilled by the displays that they have put on the field. A win is a win is a win, but sometimes the things you do in a win can lead to a future loss of they’re not cleaned up.
Asked on Tuesday what he felt his team was doing this season that has led to their unbeaten record, Tomlin offered, “I think we are just doing enough to get out of stadiums. We desire to play better, obviously, but I’m thankful that we have enough competitive spirit and believe in each other enough that enough guys want to be the reason why we are successful, that we can make enough plays to persevere sometimes in the midst of adversity”.
That’s quite a mouthful, even by Tomlin’s standard, which is, of course, the standard. Basically, it’s a longwinded and more eloquent way of saying that we have been able to do what we need to do in order to win games. “Sometimes in the midst of adversity that we create”, as he said. That doesn’t mean he thinks they are doing something everyone else isn’t, or that they’re in a different position outside of their record.
“I don’t think any of us probably view ourselves as finished products at this point”, he added, of al teams in the NFL. “I think our perspective on where we are is probably not a lot different than the 31 others. We are all working week-in and week-out trying to win that particular game but also understanding that we need to get better in the process because significant challenges usually lie ahead”.
Again, another variation of a common but valuable cliché, which is that we take it one game at a time, one day at a time, whatever measurement you want to break it down into. 6-0 simply means that they’ve accomplished their main objective six times in six tries. There are still 10 more games in the regular season, and those games essentially mean nothing if you get into the postseason. Just ask the 2007 New England Patriots. The only team to win 18 games and not come home with a championship.