For Love Of Game

The Steelers were angry after falling behind in Baltimore, Mike Tomlin told reporters, but it didn't "still their love for play and the game." Mike Prisuta explains.

Mike Tomlin begrudgingly had to "acknowledge" the existence of confidence and momentum and other such intangibles this week, although he added the characterization of "mystical" when assessing their value, mostly because you "can't measure them."

It was as if the "mystical" reference was intended as an asterisk.

Tomlin had appeared much more appreciative of the will to win his team had displayed on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.

Sometimes that can be measured on a scoreboard, and the Steelers' 23-20 triumph at M&T Bank Stadium certainly appeared to be one of those times.

The Steelers had to dig deep into their intangibles bag to overcome injuries, turnovers, interceptions and penalties and still slay the Ravens.

"They were angry," Tomlin assessed of his team's demeanor when the ball or the breaks wouldn't bounce the Steelers' way. "But they didn't let it still their love for the play and the game."

That's about as "mystical" as it gets.

And it goes beyond wanting to beat Baltimore or San Diego or Cincinnati while stalking another championship.

It's nothing less than what allows such things to happen.

"A lot of guys in the locker room have played this game for a long time, some since the age of 7," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery offered. "And your love for this game, your relationship with this game, it has sustained you for this amount of time. You don't let any adversity or whatever may come along affect that relationship that you have with the game.

"This game offers so many challenges. Going into the (Baltimore) game 6-5, guys injured, you get down 13-3, on the road, in a hostile environment. But guys, they love the game so much; with that love of the game you're able to overcome it.

"I don't think it's talked about much, but if you love this game you play it for the right reasons. And you want to do everything in your power to win championships, to lay it on the line for your teammates. Because that's part of the game, as well, being able to line up next to a guy that feels the same way about the game as you do. That's what drives you. That's what sustains you."

Cotchery began to figure all of that out early in his football life.

He's come to appreciate it now more than ever.

"I started playing organized football at age 7," Cotchery continued. "I played basketball, as well, but I carried a football around and you watch Jerry Rice catch a pass on TV and you go outside and you practice the same thing. You do the same thing. You're the quarterback and the receiver. That's the joy in it. That's why I'm still here playing it.

"That love is still there."

If you're still a little unclear as to what all of that can mean to a team, envision again the Ben Roethlisberger-Charlie Batch embrace in Baltimore.

That's what these Steelers have going for them heading into the most critical juncture of the season.

"When you start off in the offseason and you're going through all the workouts and you're working out having those guys beside you, you have that goal in mind, to win a Super Bowl," Cotchery maintained. "When it gets to crunch time you look back on those moments, those tough moments, ‘We're not going to let all that hard work go to waste.'

"If you get an entire group feeling that way it's going to be hard to beat 'em. I'm pretty sure other teams may feel that way, as well. That's what makes the game special.

"But you know we feel that way. And that's what's going to make us hard to beat."

Steel City Insider Top Stories