The “Underdog Card”, what a fantastic card it is to play. Some misconstrue it as the Bluff Card, for whatever reason, it seems to befuddle me.
The underdog card is used so to speak, to keep the players in check and away from complacency. You want the players to enter each game as if the opponent is a better team than yours.
The bluff card is used in terms, to force other teams to think that you are depleted. When I mean depleted, I mean that your team is so called playing without key players to injury. The message the other team should register into their minds is “Oh, it looks like we have this game in the bag.”
Take the Pittsburgh Penguins for example: In the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs the Penguins used both cards to attempt to claim the cup. They went into each game of each series with the attitude that the other teams were way better, causing them to play at the highest level they could.
The coaching staff opened up the bluff card in the media expressing that they had several players injured. It was used to try and throw the other teams off balance and play down to a lesser level.
Now you see how people can sometimes misconstrue the two types of cards, “Underdog and Bluff.”
OK, getting back to the underdog card, that's the card that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of familiarity with. It's the card that they are often comfortable using, because they are very successful at playing it.
Boy, the Steelers sure are awesome at playing the underdog card. In fact they win most of their games playing the underdog card.
If you look back at recent history, the Steelers played the “Underdog Card” to push themselves to be the ones at the end of the tunnel playing in Super Bowls XL and XLIII.
Back in 2005 everyone was talking about the Steelers not being able to make it to the Super Bowl. Why? Because they counted on Ben Roethlisberger to have a sophomore slump.
People were saying things like “Quarterbacks usually have sophomore slumps in their second year in the NFL.” Well did Roethlisberger have a sophomore slump? No. He went out there and proved everyone wrong.
Former head coach Bill Cowher used this to the Steelers advantage, to prepare his team to have the set mind frame that they are the underdogs. The Steelers played the “Underdog Card” throughout the 2005 season and it worked.
So they continued the use of the underdog card end-to-end in the post-season, they hit the jackpot with a gracious victory in Super Bowl XL.
Fast-forward to 2008, media members had the preconceived idea that second-year head coach Mike Tomlin could have a sophomore slump. Doesn't this remind you of what was said about Big Ben Roethlisberger?
I bet it does.
Well, anyways, Mike Tomlin took to account recognizing all of the above poppycock, he used it as an asset and rolled with the punches proving them wrong.
Mike Tomlin saw a use for the underdog card, he used it at will getting all his players on board with that mind frame. So, the Steelers went through the toughest schedule game-by-game playing the “Underdog Card.” It worked.
They continued playing that card throughout the post-season, keno the Steelers hit the lottery, bringing home the sixth unprecedented Lombardi Trophy.
Here goes a quote from Mike Tomlin: “That’s been our story all year. We’ve got a team that doesn’t blink in the face of adversity. It’s never going to be pretty or perfect, if you will, but they’ve got a great deal of belief in one another.
"They’ve got a great deal of resolve, and it was put on display. Our defense gets a lot of recognition for what they’re capable of, and rightfully so, but what you saw from our quarterback and our offense at the end of that football game is what they’ve provided for us all year. When we’ve needed it the most, they’ve done it and done it big.
"That’s a rerun for us. We did that in Baltimore to win the division. We’re a team and that’s why there’s no division in our locker room, because those guys know that when the chips are down, number seven and company will ante up and kick in.
"I’m just so happy and proud of them. If I could win any way, it would be like that. All people being involved and having to deliver for us is truly special. As a coach, it’s special.”
I think this quote of Tomlin's well describes the Pittsburgh Steelers using the “Underdog Card.”
OK, now let's get to brass taxes, the Steelers actually play the underdog card for 95 percent of their games.
If you have noticed, the media hardly ever mentions the Pittsburgh Steelers as a Super Bowl contender at the beginning of the season, if not at all. You usually hear the media mention teams like the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, and Dallas Cowboys being favored to win the Super Bowl.
The Steelers don't mind not being brought up in the Super Bowl ring of latent contenders. Yes, it's okay, they like it that way, flying under the radar playing the “Underdog Card.” The Pittsburgh Steelers are at their best on the gridiron when they play that card.
So, I believe Steeler Nation has embraced the underdog card, I know I have, and Mike Tomlin has likewise. Underdog Card it is, because it's the best card to play.
Just remember, the “Underdog Card” is always the perfect card for the Steelers to play.