Aubrey Bruce: Tomlin’s Steelers show poise in 24-17 win over Indy…Can they keep it up against Atlanta, Dec. 4?

GOING THE EXTRA YARD FOR THE WIN—The Steelers’ Najee Harris extends for a touchdown in the team’s win over Indianapolis, 24-17, on Monday Night Football, Nov. 28. (Photos by Courier photographer Mike Patton)

by Aubrey Bruce, For New Pittsburgh Courier

Monday Night Football has been and continues to be the game of the week in the NFL, in my opinion. First and foremost, it gives most of the fans whose teams don’t have a prospect of winning in the near future an opportunity to root for another team other than their home team, without feeling guilty.

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin is the man that many Steelers fans, as well as many members of the so-called media, continue to sharpen the blade of their guillotine preparing to decapitate his employment in spite of and disregarding his 19-3 MNF win-loss record as well as his win-loss record in general.

STEELERS HEAD COACH MIKE TOMLIN

However, despite all of his usual naysayers, Coach Tomlin remained humble after his team’s impressive 24-17 win on the road on Nov. 28 at Indianapolis, with a rookie starting QB Kenny Pickett leading the charge.

Tomlin told the media afterward: “I’m just appreciative of having an opportunity to compete on Monday Night Football. All of us grew up on it and it’s just part of the fabric of our society, man. And it’s not (just) to participate in, but to win. We’ve got a lot to work on, but we were good enough tonight to secure victory. And for that we are thankful.”

Tomlin is never one to embark on a serious ego trip after a big win nor does he require therapy after he loses a game. Also, after the victory, he didn’t gush like his team was on the cusp of storming into the NFL 2022 postseason, he simply said this: “We’ve got a short week, got another road trip waiting on us, and so you gotta sleep fast and do those things. From a health standpoint, Naj (running back Najee Harris) was out with an abdominal injury. He’s being evaluated. I don’t know the extent of that.”

Harris was again sidelined by injury. Harris has not performed normally since his foot injury occurred earlier this year. Has the second-year running back lobbied for increased playing time fully knowing that because of his injuries, his performance has been sporadic and inconsistent because of his known or unknown injuries? If, so he may have been infected with the Antonio Brown syndrome otherwise known as “Me-it-is.”

Fourth- or third-string running backs Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland replaced Harris after he suffered an abdominal injury earlier in the game and for the remainder of the game, both players averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry: Snell averaged 5.2 yards per rush and McFarland averaged 5.0 yards per tote. Meanwhile, at the time that Harris was injured on Monday night, he was averaging a paltry 3.5 yards per tote. That 1.5 yards per carry negative is crucial, especially on the road in a hostile environment with communication challenges.

“You know, I thought the kickoff unit has to be better,” Tomlin said. “I thought that was a catalyst for whatever got started with them in the second half. The field position component of it was a big negative. We gotta get better there. The field positioning was a negative in that aspect of the game. But that’s what jumped out at me. There’s a lot of good, there’s a lot of things to grow from. We’ll assess and move.” 

Great analysis, coach, but did anyone mention that the Colts were given an opportunity to adjust to the Steelers’ kick and punt coverage after Indy was on the receiving end on numerous kickoffs and punts?

TOUCHDOWN! THE STEELERS CELEBRATE EN ROUTE TO A 24-17 WIN OVER THE COLTS, NOV. 28.

Some of the media attempted to be clever by insinuating that a few of the defensive backs that were substituted because of injuries or schematically were subpar and maybe lacked the quality to preserve a lead. Mike Tomlin didn’t concur with that negative analysis. “We use everybody in the secondary that’s in a helmet,” he pointed out. “We’ve kind of been in that mentality all year. The rotation of how we utilize them might change from game to game based on matchup components and things of that nature. But it’s been pretty consistent that DBs in a helmet, we utilize them all.”

Did anyone see the Colts’ midget-league clock management at the end of the game? Does that mean that the Colts’ rookie Head Coach, Jeff Saturday, should be canned?  If Mike Tomlin would have committed such an egregious mistake, he would be on the last train to Lawrenceville. 

STEELERS FANS IN COLTS TERRITORY, NOV. 28

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