The Steelers are the epitome of stability and wins. In a league that sees coaches come and go, the Steelers have had three since 1969. Chuck Noll—the most underrated coach anywhere—won four Super Bowls in his 23 seasons. Bill Cowher won one in his 15 seasons, and Mike Tomlin has won one in his first five seasons.
Tomlin has a chance to win his second this year, and if he does, the crucial point will prove to be this past weekend.
Week 13 of the NFL season saw another edition of the best rivalry in the NFL, the Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. I’m a Packers fan and readily acknowledge that Packers-Bears is a distant second among NFL rivalries.
This year’s two games between these AFC North teams were different than previous ones. That’s because in an inexcusable scheduling snafu, they played twice in three weeks. Ridiculous. The reason why that’s ridiculous jumped up and bit the Steelers right on the tuchus this year.
Injuries are a part of the NFL. Every team has to live with them. But if two divisional rivals play twice in three weeks, a player nicked up for three weeks misses both games.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger—a player as valuable to his team as any in the league—hurt his shoulder and ribs and did in fact miss both Ravens games while being out three weeks. In the first Ravens game, backup Byron Leftwich was hurt, forcing third-string quarterback Charlie Batch into action.
Batch’s start against the Cleveland Browns in Week 12 was his seventh start in seven years in Pittsburgh. It didn’t go so well. Batch threw three interceptions—part of the Steelers’ eight turnovers that day—and the Steelers lost to the lowly Browns.
No one outside of Steeler Nation could have expected what happened in Baltimore this past week. Batch threw for 276 yards—his most since 2001—and the Steelers won a critical road game.
The scene after the game was a visual of the great Steelers organization. The emotional hug between Batch and Roethlisberger was visual evidence that they play for the team. The win was the goal. Not stats. Not a chance for Batch to showcase himself for a better opportunity elsewhere.
This is why the Steelers win championships.
You know the sayings. “There’s no I in team.” “The important thing is the name on the front of the jersey and not the back.”
They’re corny and hokey. They’re also true.
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