Despite Win, Saturday Was Not Steelers' Finest Hour

There remains plenty for the Steelers to be embarrassed about, despite their having survived and advanced.

The resonating storylines coming out of Cincinnati should have been about young running backs, young linebackers and a young kicker measuring up, about a young wide receiver’s redemption and about a damaged quarterback’s resolve.

Instead, we’re still talking about personal fouls and unnecessary roughness and intent to injure and fines and about one assistant coach getting a penalty on the sideline and about another assistant coach somehow avoiding one despite being in the middle of the field at Paul Brown Stadium during what became the decisive moments on Saturday night.

No wonder Mike Tomlin was so desperate to move on.

The Steelers’ head coach at least refuted reports that outside linebackers coach Joey Porter had received a game ball in recognition of the role Porter’s  goading of Bengals cornerback Pacman Jones had played in Jones receiving the dead-ball personal foul that ultimately turned the game-winning kick from challenging into a chip shot.

“Untrue,” Tomlin insisted at this week’s media gathering.

The Steelers can at least feel good about that, because had Porter been saluted in such a fashion the organization might never have lived it down.

There remains plenty for the Steelers to be embarrassed about, despite their having survived and advanced.

Perhaps that’s why Tomlin, after opening with a review that included what he had liked about Saturday night’s 18-16 escape, seemed so determined to turn the page.

“This is what I’m going to do about all of that so that we can move on, I think it’s appropriate,” Tomlin maintained. “Cincinnati is afforded the opportunity to sit around days after the game and rehash what happened. We’re not afforded that opportunity. We have a challenge, a formidable one, waiting on us in Denver.

“I said what I said after the game, I thought it appropriately summarized the play. We have respect for those guys. We understood what was at stake for them and us. It’s a tough, hard-fought game against familiar opponents. It’s just part of football. We’re moving on, we have to. We can’t waste one iota of time living in the past.”

Among other things, Tomlin had said in the immediate aftermath in Cincinnati that he thought both teams had “represented the AFC North and what the AFC North is about.”

We can only hope he was referencing the competitive play and not the unprofessional behavior.

There was also this: “We’ll accept the officiating. These guys did a great job I thought.”

He might be the only one.

Since the Steelers won they can celebrate moving on, as any and all postseason victories should be celebrated.

Saturday’s win might have been the second-most improbable postseason victory in Steelers’ history.

But it was far from the Steelers’ finest hour.

And if they’re unaware of how close they came to being the team with egg dripping from their faces as well as raindrops, they’re in danger of potentially becoming that team the next time.

They have much to address along those lines, along with their red zone offense, the recurring doubts about the capabilities of their backup quarterback and the health of their most significant offensive players, in advance of Sunday.

As for publicly acknowledging the need to do so, “It’s not going to help us beat the Denver Broncos,” Tomlin insisted.

Nor will much of what we saw from the Steelers in Cincinnati.

No matter who went home with the game ball.


Categories: Mike Prisuta’s Sports Section