In dropping games to Baltimore and Cleveland the Pittsburgh Steelers have repeated something they’ve rarely done since Mike Tomlin’s arrival in 2007 – lose back to back games.
In 2007 it was the Anthony Smith game vs. New England followed by a loss to Jacksonville.
And of course in 2009 the Steelers began by losing to the Cincinnati Bengals at home, and did not stop losing until eeking out a last second victory vs. Green Bay six games later.
After the 2009 season, Steelers President Art Rooney II cited Tomlin’s ability to snap that losing streak – the Steelers won their final three, as part of the reason why he was so comfortable with having Tomlin as his coach.
The 2009 streak was instructive, because Tomlin’s ability to break the losing streak got little discussion in the press. This stands in sharp contrast to Bill Cowher’s ability to snap his Steelers teams out of similar funks.
- In 1995, after the Steelers laid an egg vs. Cincinnation Thursday night, Cowher made wholesale roster changes, including shifting Carnell Lake from safety to corner.
- In 2005 the Steelers dropped three straight, including a home loss vs. Cincinnati, and Bill Cowher responded by calling for a full pads practice in December – something rules would prohibit him from doing today.
But no one really knows what Mike Tomlin did back in 2009 to get the Steelers to stop losing games.
Steelers Nation does know, however, what didn’t work. Horrendous specials teams were at the root of the Steelers first two losses during that ugly ’07 streak. Tomlin cut special teamers Arnold Harrison, Donavan Woods and reserve corner Keenan Ratliff and brought back Anthony Madison but those moves did not halt the Steelers slide. (Firing Bob Ligashesky would have been a wiser move.)
After a tough overtime loss to the Ravens, Tomlin promised to “Raise Hell in December” only to see the team fall even flatter on its face vs. the Browns in Cleveland. In between he talked big about benching starters, but the only move that materialized was Joe Burnett going in for William Gay on a few series.
Mendenhall Demoted, Mike Wallace Now a “Co-starter”
That was then, however. This is now. Tomlin has made two moves in response to the Steelers latest loss.
Jonathan Dwyer will start for the Steelers vs. the Ravens over Rashard Mendenhall, after Mendenhall fumbled twice, and seemed to shy away from embracing responsibility.
- He also has elevated Emmanuel Sanders to status of costarter, equal to Mike Wallace.
Whether that’s a symbolic move or whether it has more substance behind it remains to be seen, but Mike Wallace has not produced consistently, Emmanuel Sanders has.
Musical Chairs on the Offensive Line, Again
Those won’t be the Steeles only roster moves this Sunday. The Steelers placed Marcus Gilbert on IR, ending his season, and activated first round pick David DeCastro, who has recovered from the knee injury he suffered in preseason.
But Mike Adams is still nursing an ankle injury as is Willie Colon.
So its quite possible that the Steelers offensive line vs. the Ravens will look like this:
- Max Starks – Markuice Pouncey – Doug Legursky – David DeCastro – Ramon Foster
This is one of the configurations they’ve been trying, although Tomlin had earlier said that rookie Kelvin Beachum would start at right tackle.
Not exactly the offensive line you want to take into a crucial match up with your division rival Ravens but “The Standard is the Standard.”
Thanks for visiting. Click here to check out the rest of Steel Curtain Rising. Or… Follow @SteelCurtainRis