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PITTSBURGH – On a significant night for Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin captured his own significant milestone.
With Monday night’s 26-14 win over the Cleveland Browns in the quarterback’s home final, the Steelers moved to 8-7-1 with one game left, ensuring Tomlin will avoid a losing season for the 15th season in a row as head coach. That mark sets an NFL record and breaks Marty Schottenheimer’s streak from 1984 to 1997 during tenure with the Browns and Kansas City Chiefs.
But Tomlin, notoriously underplayed when it comes to personal performance, downplayed the benchmark Tuesday.
“Not like I’m sitting here today, and I say that humbly,” Tomlin replied when asked if it made sense to put the mark. “Our agenda this year is to get in [the] single-elimination tournament and then put our skills against others in the single-elimination tournament in an attempt to win the world championship. That’s our mentality every year.
“And so with that mentality, it’s just certain hardware that you expect to pick up along the way. And if you do not, you would be seriously disappointed. It’s just an expectation we have here in Pittsburgh.”
Now 49, Tomlin set a record more than a decade ago as the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl when he was 36 and coached the Steelers to a victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. He has loved his team and established himself as one of the league’s best coaches for his messages and relationships with his players.
“He challenges his players,” longtime defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said earlier in the season. “He expects the best. When he challenges us, it’s individual, but it’s for the collective group. He does it from a place where you know he wants the best for you, and to get a coach to do it on such a one-on-one level, even when he’s head coach, is quite special. “
In his 15 seasons, Tomlin has amassed a record of 161-93-2, even though he is only 8-8 in the off-season.
“This team is full of tradition and history,” Roethlisberger said after Tomlin captured his 150th regular-season victory earlier this season against the Chicago Bears. “And then I’m sure he’s proud of it, and he should be. There are many – there are probably not many good coaches, but the coaches who have been here have been quite historic.”
This season, Tomlin helped correct the ship after the Steelers started 1-3 and went on a three-game win-free streak in the middle of the season. Now, with just one week 18 game left in Baltimore, the worst the Steelers can finish is 8-8-1.