The great thing about winning games with mistakes is the winning. It’s really that simple. The mistakes still suck, and are no less important, unless the game you happen to be talking about is the Super Bowl. That is the only game after which a film review session really isn’t very significant, at least for another half a year or so.
That’s the only difference between winning with mistakes and losing with mistakes. And that is the mindset that the 9-0 Pittsburgh Steelers have occupied throughout their historic run. Or as head coach Mike Tomlin said yesterday during his pre-game press conference, “the only thing that is perfect about our team is our record. We acknowledge that there will always be things that we need to work on”.
One of the areas that he focused on as needing attention is the running game, and he likened it to the emphasis that they had recently put on correcting the performance of the defense on possession downs. That work revealed itself on Sunday when they held the Cincinnati Bengals to 0-of-13 on third down.
That third-down performance, however, is old news now, and it doesn’t affect the Jacksonville Jaguars, their next opponent, who despite having a terrible, one-win season and riding an eight-game losing streak, nearly got the best of the Green Bay Packers, one of the top teams in the NFC.
“We are preparing with an edge. We understand that we have a bullseye on our back, if you will, being where we are in this process”, Tomlin said in that regard. “We don’t run away from that; we embrace that. We enjoy the challenges that the National Football League presents week in and week out”.
“We acknowledge that going on the road to an AFC South group, one that we have a history with and one that always plays us tough and always brings a certain edge to play”, he added. “We respect that, and we are going to proceed this week with our work”.
Sometimes I think Steelers fans would be more frustrated over a loss to a bad team than they would be losing to a rival in a game that determines the division. The team hasn’t lost any games so far this season, of any type, but Sunday’s showdown in Jacksonville would certainly qualify as a ‘trap’ game for those who believe such things exist.
The truth is that, at 9-0, the only think the Steelers have locked up is a winning record, and a guarantee that they can’t draft first overall in 2021 without a trade. They haven’t secured the number one seed. They haven’t locked up the AFC North. They haven’t even ensured that they will make it into the postseason yet.
There’s still a lot of work to do, and a lot of things to work on. This is an imperfect team, as every team is, and it will always remain imperfect. But as long as they can continue to address the issues as they pop up and continue to win in the process, that is all one can hope for.