Mike Tomlin, in the home locker room after his Steelers defeated the Browns on Sunday, announced that he would be bringing the game ball to center Maurkice Pouncey, who the Steelers dedicated the victory to.
While Pouncey — who was suspended for the game for his participation in Pittsburgh's fight with Cleveland back in Week 11– certainly deserved the honor after serving as a rallying cry for his teammates, Tomlin should have taken a game ball home for himself as well. Tomlin, the Steelers' veteran head coach, had just led his team to another improbable victory in a season full of them. Despite losing Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2, Stephon Tuitt in Week 6, and James Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Pouncey in recent weeks, the Steelers are 7-5 after a 1-4 start. They would be in the playoffs as the AFC's sixth seed if the postseason started today.
Bill Cowher, the coach Tomlin succeeded in Pittsburgh prior to the start of the 2007 season, believes that this has been Tomlin's best coaching season to date. Cowher, an NFL analyst for CBS Sports said so himself during Sunday's CBS pregame show.
"I think when you look at Mike Tomlin, they've had great success since he's been there. But I think this has been his best coaching year to date, because you know what? He's done more with less," said Cowher, whose stellar 15-year coaching career in Pittsburgh included a victory in Super Bowl XL. "He's had to make the (necessary) moves since Ben Roethlisberger got hurt in the first week. He's adapted and adjusted and he's got this team hunting for the playoffs.
"I give a lot of credit to that man," Cowher continued. He's taken this team and turned them into a defensive football team, getting Minkah Fitzpatrick and making the change at quarterback because it wasn't working. He's not afraid to move things and shake things. And like I said, I think Mike Tomlin's had his best coaching year this year."
Cowher is not alone in his praise of the work Tomlin has done this season. While CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has also tabbed this season as Tomlin's best work, several Steelers defensive players raved about the halftime adjustments Tomlin made during Sunday's win over the Browns. After allowing Baker Mayfield to engineer two lengthy scoring drives in the first half, Pittsburgh's defense forced allowed just three points in the second half while coming up with two critical turnovers of Mayfield, who finished with under 200 passing yards while being sacked five times.