It’s Wednesday, which means we’re four days out from Patriots-Steelers in Pittsburgh. And you know how NFL coaches get when it comes to big games. They completely shut down. They go into total bunker mode and just filibuster their press conferences with clichés about winning the day, taking everything one practice at a time, and reminding everyone that football is about all three facets of the game: offense, defense, and special teams.
But that’s not how Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is approaching it. He started talking about this game a few weeks ago in an interview with Tony Dungy when he said “I’m going to embrace the elephant in the room” and added that the Patriots game is “going to be fireworks.”
NFL coaches are so buttoned up that based on the reaction, you would’ve thought that he’d guaranteed that the Steelers would wipe the floor with the Patriots, when all he really said is that the game was “going to be fireworks.”
And the best part is that as we’ve entered game week, he’s still talking about it. And I love it. “It’s good to be in big games. It’s better to be in big games than ones nobody’s watching. We better be appreciative of this spot and not resistant in any way, but embrace it. This is what we’ve been fighting for since March, to be in these types of games against these types of people. Why would you fight that? It’s an awesome thing.”
It is an awesome thing and even more awesome when he’s saying things like this: “It’s good to be in the kitchen. The kitchen’s in Pittsburgh, PA, this week in the National Football League, and at Heinz Field. That’s where you want to be in the middle of December. We don’t take it for granted.”
Hell yes. Then again, this is the same guy who announced his arrival on Twitter four years ago by declaring: Hello Twitter. Expect no BS from me. Just straight fire! And so I was fully prepared for him to be absolutely crushing fools on social media. Just one vicious RT and emoji after another. And that hasn’t exactly been the case, but considering how most NFL coaches are, saying that “it’s good to be in the kitchen” is about as close to straight fire as we’re going to get, especially ahead of a big game. Saying it’s good to be in the kitchen is practically bulletin board material these days, which is sad on so many levels.
And he’s right. It is good to be in the kitchen. The only problem is that the Patriots have been in the Steelers kitchen and their living room and their den and their pool and their backyard. A lot. They’ve taken all the beer from the fridge, put their feet up on their coffee tables, spilled food on the rugs, and blown out the speakers. And the Steelers haven’t been able to stop them.
New England beat Pittsburgh twice last season, including in the AFC Championship game. Tom Brady is 10-2 against the Steelers in his career and 6-1 since Tomlin took over. And over those seven games, he’s thrown for 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He’s shredded a Steelers defense that is going to be without Ryan Shazier, but Mike Mitchell isn’t intimidated. Because Mike Mitchell is never intimidated.
“This is the game everyone’s been waiting to see. We’re going to show up and fight. Obviously it’s got a lot of history to it; I’ve been thinking about this game since we lost it last year. Very much look forward to playing them. Obviously, Tom Brady is the GOAT [greatest of all time]. I tip my hat to him. He is the GOAT, and for us to be the champ we have to beat the champ.”
I’ll be real. I can’t wait for this game. The clock can’t spin fast enough to Sunday’s kickoff. I was concerned when the Steelers stumbled slightly after Tomlin’s fireworks comments, like they were already looking forward to this game too much, but they found a way to win each time. And the fact that the Patriots lost on Monday night really doesn’t take anything away from this game at all. If anything, it might make them more dangerous.
And that’s saying something because Tom Brady has, frankly, owned the Steelers. Not only has he been in the Steelers kitchen, he raided the fridge and left dishes in the sink for the Steelers to clean up: like that roommate everyone hates. You know, the same tool that will never pay his portion of the phone bill. Now the question is whether or not the Steelers will be able to change that on Sunday. CAN’T WAIT.