Hound Dogs On His Trail

Lose to a 1-8 team and everyone has a question. Here are some that were put to Mike Tomlin at his televised Tuesday press conference:


The Steelers are 8-10 against teams with losing records (at the time of game) the last three years. Tomlin was asked if there's any mental element behind it.

"I tend to focus on what's really tangible," he said. "On Sunday, we turned the ball over a lot and we didn't get any. Minus four is going to put you in a tough position to win regardless of who you're playing or where you're playing or what the circumstances of the game are."

Both Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger turned the ball over twice, and William Gay dropped an interception at the goal line. Tomlin calculated that those turnovers cost the Steelers a minimum of nine points in the 20-13 loss.

"Antonio Brown's a guy that's always ready to play, always wired-in mentally," Tomlin said. "Ben, prior to Sunday, had thrown three interceptions all season. He threw two Sunday. It's not reflected in his preparation or who he is. He's been very good if not great for us, but it happened on Sunday. And when those things happen, you have a tough time winning football games."


A miscommunication following the game led to the belief that Roethlisberger didn't realize James Harrison was on the field as a goal-line fullback in the fourth quarter. Tomlin was asked about it.

"James has been practicing at short-yardage and goal-line fullback for a number of weeks," Tomlin said. "He went out a couple of weeks ago but there was a stoppage in play and we chose another play."

On a first down at the New York 1, Harrison entered the field with three tight ends and tailback LeGarrette Blount. Roethlisberger faked a handoff and threw incomplete to Harrison.

After a penalty moved the ball a half-yard closer, Roethlisberger handed to Blount, but Blount didn't follow Harrison, who had blown open a hole between right guard and right tackle.

Blount was stopped short, Harrison left the game, Blount lost eight yards on the next snap, and the Steelers eventually settled for a field goal.

"James is a talented guy," Tomlin said. "He likes running down the center of people. That's an asset that can be valuable to us in short-yardage and goal-line. It is. And we're going to utilize it."


Mike Mitchell took a flying leap over center Sunday as the Jets settled into victory formation in the final seconds. Jets coach Rex Ryan called it "kind of bush league." Tomlin came close to saying the same.

"It was not professional," said Tomlin, who explained he didn't hear Mitchell when Mitchell asked if he could do it late in the game.

"I just kind of acknowledged him and nodded," Tomlin said. "We do not play football like that."

Tomlin made his point Monday when he showed the team the play.

"I wanted to be very clear about how we play and what it is we value," he said.


Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh was filmed after his team's win in Tennessee on Sunday saying, "That team beat us last week. OK. Then, they went out and got their [butt] kicked this week."

A reporter Tuesday linked Harbaugh's brother Jim in with his question to Tomlin.

"Man, I got not comment on the Harbaughs," Tomlin said. "I didn't play either one of them last week; I don't play either one of them this week, If they choose to spend their time thinking and talking about us, so be it.

"Hopefully," Tomlin added, "if we do what we're supposed to do, and they do what they're supposed to do, we'll see them again. Maybe we can settle it in '15. Maybe not. We'll see."


Tomlin acknowledged practice-squad offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a captain with the U.S. Army Rangers, to the team Monday and the media Tuesday, Veterans Day.

Tomlin said the Steelers will honor Villanueva today and the rest of the week and take him to Tennessee for the Monday night game against the Titans "as a sign or a token of our appreciation for not only the sacrifice he's made, but all the service men and women in the history of our country."


The final game before the bye week will be played without at least three starters, SS Troy Polamalu (knee), CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and ILB Ryan Shazier (ankle).

Reserve safeties Shamarko Thomas and Ross Ventrone will have their hamstring injuries evaluated this week.

Starting NT Steve McLendon, who returned last week from a two-game absence with a shoulder injury, is questionable again after a recurrence of the same injury.

All or most of these players should be healthy for the Nov. 30 game against against New Orleans after the bye. They could even come in with outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who's on injured reserve with a wrist injury. Jones would be eligible to return for the game, but hasn't been activated to practice yet.


In yesterday's column it was reported the Steelers are 1-8 against opponents with a .200 winning percentage or less since the 2012 season.

That is incorrect.

The Steelers are 3-7 against such opponents, 2-6 against opponents with less than a .200 winning percentage.

Of the latter eight games, only three were played after the third week of the season. The Steelers are 2-1 in those games.


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