“The standard of expectation does not change.”
– Mike Tomlin on injuries, and on his philosophy of football in general
Insist as he might that the story of the 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers is not about him, Mike Tomlin’s hour is at hand.
The Steelers will face off against the Arizona Cardinals today in Super Bowl XLIII in a match up that is anything, if unscripted.
- The Steelers weren’t supposed to weather the NFL’s toughest schedule
- Everyone knows that for the Steelers to thrive, their running game has to be dominant With four new starters, the Steeler offensive line wasn’t supposed to be up to snuff
- Ben wasn’t supposed to survive the onslaught of opposing defenders
- The Steelers weren’t supposed to win AFC Championship games at Heinz field
The Steelers played the NFL’s toughest schedule and came out 12-4. Their running game and offensive line might not be what they used to be, but they’ve been good enough. And although the excessive punishment Ben is taking has long term implications that are worrisome, Ben seemed to play better as the hits got harder. And with their AFC Championship victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers appear to have exorcized their Heinz field playoff demons.
When the playoff started, the script went like this: Indy would beat San Diego, giving the Steelers a chance to avenge their loss, Joe Flacco would start playing like a rookie and thus give the Steelers a shot at revenge against the Titans. The Giants would show they could live with out Plaxico, and the Steelers revenge tour would be complete.
- Except none of it happened according to plan, just like Mike Tomlin’s becoming Steelers head coach.
By now we’re all tired of rehearing the story of how Dan Rooney passed over not one, but two of Bill Cowher’s lieutenants to select the a little known defensive coordinator from Minnesota to lead the Steelers.
Tomlin impressed with his 10-6 AFC North Championship season in his debut, but he entered 2008 facing a lot of questions that arose with the Steelers weak finish in 2007.
- Mike Tomlin has answered everyone one of them, and more.
- If Bill Cowher was loved by anyone in Pittsburgh, it was his players.
Yet, in two years Mike Tomlin has come in and made this team his own. He may not be as vocal as Cowher, but he is every bit as demanding. The quote that we led this article says it all, if someone is injured,
- “the standard of expectation does not change.”
And that standard is excellence.
Tomlin has preached perfection from day one. And if the Steelers haven’t always been perfect, they have been good enough to win.
Super Bowl XLIII – Steelers vs. the Cardinals – the Final Analysis
So now it comes down to this. If the Steelers were denied second shots at Indy, Tennessee, and New York, the fates gave Tomlin a chance face off against the men he beat to earn his job, the same men who handed him his first defeat as a head coach.
Tomlin has often said that schemes are overrated, that it comes down to execution.
And so will Super Bowl XLIII.
- Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald form the NFL’s most lethal quarterback receiver tandem.
- Arizona has a tough defense and special teams that can hurt you.
Tomlin and company certainly have a good game plan prepared, but at the end of the day, it comes down to weather or not he’s got his players ready to play.
Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington, Limas Sweed, Hines Ward, and Heath Miller need to catch balls on offense. The offensive line must avoid those stupid pre-snap penalties. Ben Roethlisberger’s simply got to do his thing, and not worry about redeeming his poor performance in Super Bowl XL.
- And the Steelers must play tough defense.
If Tomlin can get his men to do those things, then the Steelers playmakers will do what they have done all year long – Make big plays at critical moments.