Mike Tomlin Leads AFC to 24-23 Pro Bowl Win over NFC, Raises Steelers Pro Bowl Coaching Record to 8-1

Mike Tomlin once assured reporters, “As long as they keep score, I’m trying to win.” The Pro Bowl may have “evolved” to a point where it is only a step more intense than contact flag football, but Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff can sleep soundly at night knowing they led the AFC to a 24-23 victory over NFC in the 2018 Pro Bowl.

And there were plenty of Black and Gold helmets in the huddle at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, as Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, Alejandro Villanueva, Roosevelt Nix, Cam Heyward and Chris Boswell represented the Pittsburgh Steelers.

  • If, Roethlisberger to Brown in Pittsburgh proved to be one of the league’s most potent combinations, that magic didn’t translate to Orlando.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pro Bowl 2018

Ben Roethlisberger @ 2018 Pro Bowl. Photo Credit: Yahoo.com.ca

Ben Roethlisberger went 7 of 13 for 50 yards and one pick, while Antonio Brown had one catch for 3 yards. Le’Veon Bell only had two carries, or the same as Roosevelt Nix, and together the two men gained 7 yards. That’s not much of a surprise, given that contact with a defender more or less equates to forward progress dulling the impact of a running game.

  • That’s a far cry from the 1995 Pro Bowl were, under Bill Cowher’s direction, Marshall Faulk ran for 180 yards with Chris Warren adding 127.

So be it. This was the first time Steelers Nation got to see a Randy Fichtner coordinated offense in action. And in  the eyes of NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman things did not go well:

It was especially sad to watch Randy Fichtner ring in his first game as Steelers offensive coordinator in the Pro Bowl, calling double reverses for Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown and simple routes for Ben Roethlisberger to underthrow.
It’s fair to wonder how much will change next season in the Steel City. Will Bell leave in free agency? Will Roethlisberger hint at retirement again? Will Fichtner force Big Ben to run a sneak? On Sunday, we got an answer to at least one of these quandaries. On third-and-1 from the NFC 39 with Roethlisberger under center, Fichtner called … a dive to Roosevelt Nix. Some things don’t change.

Time will tell whether this is a sign of things to come or whether Fichtner was just having fun.

While Cam Heyward was the lone Steelers defender on the AFC’s Pro Bowl squad (Ryan Shazier was voted in, but obviously could not play) he did come up with a big play:

With the 24 to 23 victory in hand, Mike Tomlin improves the overall record of Steelers coaches in the Pro Bowl to 8-1 and his “undefeated in the Pro Bowl streak” elevates him alongside Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll who were also undefeated in the Pro Bowl.

And by beating Sean Payton, the Steelers head coaches in the Pro Bowl now have another win over Super Bowl winning opponents, with Chuck Noll defeating Tom Landry and Mike Ditka and Bill Cowher defeating Barry Switzer.

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Steelers Pro Bowl Coaching Record (Because You Just HAD to Know….)

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will soon coach his first Pro Bowl and little does he know (or care) he’s got a tradition to up hold. While the Pittsburgh Steelers are known for their Super Bowls, having won 6 Super Bowls with 3 coaches, Steelers coaches have also led the AFC Pro Bowl squads to six wins.

  • Wow, you didn’t know that, did you?

No, you probably didn’t. Ah, but story gets better yet as the plot thickens. Pittsburgh Steelers coaches have won more Pro Bowls than Super Bowls and boast a 7-1 record in the Pro Bowl for a .875 winning percentage, or 10 points better than Steelers cumulative .750 Super Bowl winning percentage.

  • Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher coached 3 Pro Bowls a piece, and the AFC never suffered a loss under their guidance.

The lone Pro Bowl coaching black sheep for the Steelers is Buddy Parker, who coached the NFL Eastern division to a 26-7 loss in 1957 (actually, the 1957 Pro Bowl was played on January 12, 1958 in the Los Angeles Coliseum – keep that in mind if you ever reach Final Jeopardy and the category is “Pro Bowls” but by all means remember to phrase your response in the form of a question!)

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All of Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher’s Pro Bowl appearances came by virtue of their AFC title losses, because for much of the game’s history, the coaching staff of the losing team in the conference championship went to Hawaii.

  • Now of course the honor falls to the losing coaching staff from the divisional round that has the highest regular season record.

There’s not a whole lot to discuss in terms of past Pro Bowls, because, well no one really cares about them when they’re being played, much less after their over. I mean, Pro Football Reference lists the games results, the Pro Bowl Rosters, but doesn’t keep a record of the Box Scores. Wikipedia does have a page on each Pro Bowl game with a few notes, but again no box scores.

  • That puts the triviality of the Pro Bowl in perspective. You can find Louis Lipps passing stats on Pro Football Reference, but you can see how many Pro Bowl passes he caught.

So while we know O.J. Simpson was the MVP of the 1972 Pro Bowl, we have no (easy) way of knowing whether Chuck Noll favored Simpson over Franco Harris in terms of workload, or whether The Juice simply out performed Harris. Mel Blount however, won the 1976 Pro Bowl MVP award, for those taking notes.

  • However, we do know that Chuck Noll out witted Tom Landry, Chuck Knox and Mike Ditka in his 3 Pro Bowl appearances.
  • For his part, Bill Cowher vanquished Barry Switzer, Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid and Jim L. Mora in his Pro Bowl coaching appearances.

So, it looks Mike Tomlin arrives at his Pro Bowl coaching gig with a standard to uphold. At least he has Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Alejandro Villanueva and Cam Heyward to help him….

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2016 Steelers Pro Bowl Squad includes Triplets Plus Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro

The 2016 Pro Bowl Selections are in, and the Pittsburgh Steelers offense will be well represented in Honolulu er, um Orlando.

No surprises there. With two games left to play, Le’Veon Bell has already logged 1,747 yards from scrimmage, with 1,146 rushing yards and a 4.8 yards per carry average. Who said the era of “Franchise Running backs” is dead? It is certainly alive and well in Pittsburgh.

2016 Pro Bowl Selections, Steelers 2016 Pro Bowl, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, David DeCastro

Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro will represent the Steelers in the 2016 Pro Bowl. Photo Credit: Nick Wass, AP via Penn Live

Antonio Brown will travel to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl and his fifth overall. With two games left to play, Brown is closing in on another 100 catch season with 96 catches for 1,188 yards and 11 touchdowns.

While those numbers impress by any measure, Brown has done in a year when the Steelers have struggled to staff the number two wide receiver position, thanks to Matravis Bryant’s suspension, and injuries to Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates. Eli Rogers and Ladarius Green have helped loosen things up a little downfield, but they’ve only made their presences felt in the last fews.

Playing in his 13th year, Ben Roethlisberger has completed 304 passes for 3,540 yards, and going into season-ending matchups against the Ravens and the Browns, Big Ben has a real shot to pass the 4,000-yard mark for the fifth time. More impressively, Ben has thrown 26 touchdown passes while only throwing 11 interceptions.

Perhaps more impressively, defenes have only sacked Ben Roethlisberger 17 times.

About Those 17 Roethlisberger Sacks…

The fact that defenses have only brought down Ben Roethlisberger 17 times, and the fact that Le’Veon Bell has Hall of Fame type rushing average most certainly has something to do with the Steelers next two 2016 Pro Bowl selections.

2016 Pro Bowl voters also elected Maurkice Pouncey to his 5th Pro Bowl, meaning that the Steelers center has earned Pro Bowl honors in every season where he’s remained healthy.

David DeCastro will join Pouncey has he heads to his second Pro Bowl

Steelers Defense Shut Out of Pro Bowl Voting

Alas, the 2016 Pro Bowl voters did not opt to bestow their honors on any member of the 2016 Steelers defense. A year ago Cameron Heyward’s non-selection was a travesty but he was injured too early this season to make the cut.

Ryan Shazier would be the next likely candidate to make it to the Pro Bowl, but he doesn’t quite have the numbers while making a lot of All Pro type plays that don’t show up on the stat sheet. Ditto Stephon Tuitt who has had a tremendous year, but hasn’t made the type of highlight plays that get you Pro Bowl votes.

  • Lawrence Timmons also failed to get a Pro Bowl nod which might seem strange given how well he has played of late, but that higher level eluded him early in the season.

Since returning to a starting role, James Harrison hasn’t played at a Pro Bowl level, he’s played at an All Pro level, but Harrison didn’t start for the first 9 games of the season. (And let’s be clear, the fact that James is playing full time and the fact that the Steelers defense has gotten better are in not happenstance.)

  • Congratulations to the Steelers 2016 Pro Bowl selections.

Hopefully, the Steelers will play well enough that none of these men actually play. But to do that, Pittsburgh still must first beat Baltimore….

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Steelers Pro Bowl Honors for Brown, Polamalu; Snubs for Roethlisberger and Worilds

A day after being named the Pittsburgh Steelers MVP for the second time in just four years, wide receiver Antonio Brown received another honor – he was voted to the Pro Bowl, also making this his second appearance.

Pro Bowl voters also honor Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, naming him to his eighth Pro Bowl appearance.

Pro Bowl Voters Snub Roethlisberger

One Pittsburgh Steelers who most certainly deserved Pro Bowl honors but was denied them was quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain indicated, Roethlisberger has a higher passer rating (93.7) than Cam Newton and Tom Brady and has more touchdown passes and passing yards than Russell Wilson, all three of whom made the cut.

What Other Steelers Got Snubbed?

Given that the Steelers enter their week 17 match up vs. the Browns and for the second consecutive year are looking for a victory over Cleveland to save them from a losing season, Pittsburgh did not figure to field many Pro Bowlers.

Still, Jason Worilds who has recorded 8 sacks in only 11 starts should have been given consideration. Another player who came on strong is Cameron Heyward who has four sacks, multiple pass defenses, and has been a one man wrecking crew on the defensive line.

Fellow linebacker Lawrence Timmons who has been a force in the middle and made plays consistently all year, despite having to make the defensive calls and help rookies like Vince Williams and Terence Garvin, should have gotten an invite as well.

Steelers guard David DeCastro, their 2012 first round draft pick who is starting his first full season, has established himself as a force to be reckoned with as an interior offensive lineman, also should have been considered.

Realistically, the only other Steelers player who might have had an outside chance at selection was tight end Heath Miller, but he missed four games, and did suffer some key drops, although his play has been strong all season and was one of the big factors fueling the Steelers rebound from the 0-4 start.

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