Sitting at 5-8 on the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers still technically have an outside shot at the playoffs, but for all intents and purposes, the 2022 season is all but over.
While a shot at the AFC North division title is gone and any belief that they’re contenders is laughable at this point, there’s still a lot of football to be played in the next month with matchups against the Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.
Pride is on the line, as is the non-losing seasons streak for head coach Mike Tomlin, which currently sits at 15 seasons.
For many, it’s easy to scoff at that feat by Tomlin. While it’s become a hot-button topic in recent years with the overall lack of success from the black and gold, it’s still a remarkable feat in its own right in today’s NFL where there’s so much parity. Posting a winning season each and every year isn’t easy.
That’s what Tomlin’s done every year of his career though, and for a young player like backup tight end Zach Gentry, it’s important to keep that streak going and not be part of the group that ended that impressive streak.
Speaking with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski Wednesday, Gentry stressed how important it is to keep that streak going due to the respect the group has for its head coach.
“We all just have a certain level of respect for Coach Tomlin. I think it’s a pretty neat run that’s going on, so you don’t want to be the group that ends it for him,” Gentry stated, according to original reporting from Adamski. “I take a lot of pride selfishly in trying to make sure Mike Tomlin never has a losing season.
“I think that’s something that kind of gets a little selfishly important to me that we continue to keep that streak alive for him and for this organization.”
One could push back and argue that if it were so important for the players, maybe they should have taken care of business earlier in the season in winnable games. That’s entirely fair to do overall. It’s been a rather difficult season though with injuries, inconsistent play, in-game mistakes that were back-breaking, and more, all occurring in what many outside the organization believed was going to be a difficult transition season post-Ben Roethlisberger and former GM Kevin Colbert.
Though the Steelers were able to climb out of a 2-6 hole at the bye week to get to 5-7 and push into the playoff picture, the wheels fell off Sunday against the Ravens at Acrisure Stadium, putting them in a serious bind that they likely won’t be able to get out of.
Still, crazier things have happened in the game of football. If the Steelers win out, they’ll secure Tomlin’s winning season and extend it another year to 16 seasons, and who knows? They could find themselves in the playoffs if everything breaks correctly.
For now, though, they’re playing for pride and attempting to extend their beloved coach’s non-losing seasons streak, a streak that really doesn’t mean much to Tomlin, but certainly means something to his players, even ones that are relatively new to the organization like defensive tackle Montravius Adams.