There were no quotes from movies uttered, and no proclamations coming from Mike Tomlin.
There was no mention of unleashing hell, no talk of it being “Redemption Sunday” and no assurance of changes being made.
During his weekly meeting with the media Tuesday that lasted an abnormally long 32 minutes, Tomlin wasn’t making excuses for his team.
With a loss Sunday to the Green Bay Packers at Heinz Field, it would mark the sixth consecutive defeat by the defending Super Bowl champion. No reigning champion in NFL history has lost six in a row the year after winning the title.
“Excuses and explanations for what has happened, particularly recently, are irrelevant,” Tomlin said. “You want to know what kind of team you are, look at your record and turn the tape on. The tape hasn’t been pretty, and neither has our record.”
The Steelers have turned a once promising season into disaster. After starting the season 6-2, they have lost five in row, including setbacks to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland.
Tomlin has theories about his team’s downfall, but he isn’t sharing them publicly.
“Explanations are irrelevant,” Tomlin said. “We are what we are. We are a 6-7 team, which is a losing record at this point. It is disappointing. It hacks you off.”
Tomlin is done with the catch phrases that he has used at previous news conferences.
“I am not going to try to explain away with what’s on tape,” Tomlin said. “Our intentions and what has unfolded are two different things.”
The Steelers, still mathematically eligible for the playoffs, sit behind Jacksonville, Miami, Baltimore and the New York Jets for the final playoff spot and are tied with Houston and Tennessee.
“I still see a determined group,” Tomlin said. “I see a group that is frustrated. I see a group that has a desire to win. I see a group willing to take all the decisions that I make in an effort to win.”
He also sees a team that is having chances to get the job done, but for some reason isn’t following through on it.
“We have the desire to play dominant football,” Tomlin said. “We haven’t done that. When you don’t play dominant football, you have to be opportunistic and make timely plays. We haven’t done that, either. When you are not dominant and you don’t make timely plays, you lose football games.”
Last year, the Steelers were 7-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less; this year, they are 1-7, including all five during the losing streak.
“We have the desire to be dominant, but it’s not a requirement in terms of winning,” Tomlin said. “We have lacked dominance in the past, but found ways to win because we made significant plays in significant moments.”
Tomlin mentioned two “significant” plays that would’ve changed the outcome of at least two games.
In Baltimore, the Ravens were faced with a fourth-and-5 with 3:30 left and trailing, 17-14, when Joe Flacco hit Ray Rice on an underneath pass than went for 44 yards and set up the game-tying field goal. Baltimore won in overtime, 20-17.
The next week against Oakland, rookie cornerback Joe Burnett dropped a game-clinching interception on the final drive. The Raiders went on to score the game-winning touchdown.
The Steelers haven’t gotten an interception by a cornerback and haven’t forced a turnover in nearly nine quarters.
“You are not always going to playing dominant football,” Tomlin said. “But you would still like to be opportunistic and rise up to make the significant plays to win.”