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Playing Without Baggage Key To Monday’s Game, Says Tomlin

It’s been a turbulent season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. An up-and-down team trying to find footing during the most crucial two weeks of the year, it’s easy to lament and focus on all that’s gone wrong in 2021. Believe me, that’s a long list. But for Monday night, Mike Tomlin is telling players to put all of that aside and focus on the here and now. That was the message he delivered during his weekly Mike Tomlin Show Saturday.

“I think more than anything, man, we gotta play with passion and energy and we can’t carry the baggage of past failures in the things that teams often carry into these circumstances,” Tomlin told host Bob Pompeani via Steelers.com.

Pittsburgh is coming off an ugly 36-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16, a non-competitive game from start to finish. The Steelers dug themselves a 23-0 hole and went down 30-0 before Pittsburgh put any points on the board. They haven’t won back-to-back games since November, and essentially need to win their final two to make the postseason and even then, they’re going to need help.

Tomlin was quick to note the Steelers aren’t the only team rowing that boat.

“The Cleveland Browns are in a very similar circumstance as we are. They’ve had some moments that have been good. They’ve had some moments obviously that have been bad. That could describe any of us that are vying for playoff positioning and are not on secure footing at this time of year.”

The Browns are in an even worse situation. Sitting at 7-8, they’ve lost three of their last four, including their last two by a combined four points against the Raiders and Packers. Their playoff hopes are slim and will be none if they fall to Pittsburgh Monday night.

Tomlin said the team who can play with the most energy will be the one who comes out on top.

“Our ability to play fast and free and with the motion and not carry those bags from that experience I described is gonna define us. It’s also gonna define the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens and any other team, Miami Dolphins, anyone else that’s vying for those playoff positions.”

“I just think that’s a component of it and that’s not something that we’re gonna bury our heads in the sand regarding. We’re gonna talk openly about it. We gotta step in into the stadium with a can-do attitude. We gotta play fast and free. We can’t live in our fears. We gotta make our hopes and dreams happen.”

If Tomlin ever wants to stop coaching football, he can take over for Tony Robbins.

Pittsburgh at least has the comfort of winning the previous matchup against the Browns, a 15-10 slugfest back in Week 8. But Cleveland is coming into this game healthier than they’ve been in weeks, while Pittsburgh is currently without multiple starters due to COVID. Odds are it’ll be another close game that will come down to not who has the most energy, but who makes the game-defining play late in the fourth quarter. That was Pat Freiermuth’s touchdown and Diontae Johnson’s catch and run in the first meeting.

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