A relaxed and perhaps tired Mike Tomlin let the public know a little bit more about the persona behind the shades and smooth cliches late in his press conference Tuesday.
Coming off a "walk-off" win the previous night in San Diego, Tomlin was asked if he felt he was "putting his neck on the line" with his decision to give the ball to Le'Veon Bell with five seconds left, instead of kicking the tying field goal.
"That comes with the territory," said Tomlin. "I tell our guys all the time everybody's got something ugly about their job. The little guys gotta get in some uncomfortable piles from time to time and mix it up with the big guys. The big guys like Cam Heyward and (Stephon) Tuitt are chasing little people all day and we're not rotating them and conditioning is a factor. I've got some decisions to make. Together we eat. Or not."
The follow-up probed the genesis of one of Tomlin's oft-repeated phrases, the one about not living in his fears.
"I've always been that guy," Tomlin said. "Ask my mom. She'll tell you. I don't know. You've got to have the courage of your convictions. You can miss a lot of life just hesitating, or not taking calculated risks associated with chasing greatness or living out your dreams, and I've just always been one to try to do that. I've always been one to encourage those around me to do that."
Those who watched the first seventh-eighths of Monday night's game would agree the Steelers have some problem areas. Tomlin identified three.
* Special teams: Penalties.
"Really just unacceptable," Tomlin said of four penalties for 45 yards. In the four previous games, the Steelers committed only two penalties for 10 yards on special teams.
Why was it so difficult to NOT block someone in the back?
"I don't know. You tell me," Tomlin said. "We're going to get to the bottom of it or we're going to get new people."
* Offense: Fringe of field-goal territory.
"I'd like to see us win a few more possession downs once we cross the 50," Tomlin said. "I don't know how many punts we downed inside the 20, but usually that's a reflection of an offense that's stalling around midfield."
The Steelers downed six of Jordan Berry's eight punts inside the Chargers 20. In four previous games, the Steelers combined to down six punts inside the opponents' 20.
* Defense: Philip Rivers.
The San Diego quarterback "cracked the safe as the game unfolded. The stops were tougher to come by," Tomlin said. "We waned there some defensively as the game wore on."
In their final three possessions following Antwon Blake's defensive touchdown late in the third quarter, the Chargers had 10 first downs, 166 yards and 13 points. In their first nine possessions, the Chargers had 14 first downs, 240 yards and seven points.
ROETHLISBERGER STILL OUT
Ben Roethlisberger threw before Monday's game and told sideline reporter Craig Wolfley he's hoping to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. But Tomlin acted as if he's not even interested in using Roethlisberger.
"Really no update on Ben," Tomlin said. "I hadn't requested one. Really been focused on guys that are at the brink, guys like Shazier."
Ryan Shazier is expected to play Sunday against the Cards. The second-year linebacker has missed the last three games with a shoulder injury.
The Steelers suffered two injuries in the game. Starting strong safety Will Allen injured his ankle and is undergoing an MRI. Reserve safety Ross Ventrone injured his hamstring and was released to make room for Martavis Bryant.
THE LOST 18 SECONDS
The NFL is looking into the 18 seconds which were run off the clock from 2:56 to 2:38 as the Steelers fielded a touchback prior to their game-winning drive. Touchbacks don't require the start of the clock.
"It didn't define the outcome of the game, so I'm moving on with my work week, Tomlin said.
When asked if anyone should be paying attention to the clock to catch such errors, Tomlin said, "We're not going to run around chasing ghosts and working at doing other people's jobs. I'm not going to check to make sure concessions need help. I'm not going to check to make sure the clock guys are managing the clock."
Bruce Arians' Cardinals are 4-1 because, according to Tomlin, "They've got great balance on offense."
The Cards are leading the NFL with an average of 38 points per game, "but the manner which they're going about doing it is impressive and challenging," Tomlin said.
"Larry's a generation guy," Tomlin said of the former Pitt star. "They're utilizing him much in the way that we utilized Hines Ward when he was here. It's really impressive to see Larry embrace the blocking element of the job in the way that Hines did."
* On a TV analyst calling for Landry Jones at quarterback during the game:
"The commentator? I don't take advice from those guys."
"He appeared to be confident and relaxed throughout the game. The results weren't always what we were looking for but his communication was clean. He had a calm and sure demeanor throughout and that's one of the things that made him an attractive option to us when we acquired him."
* On Blake's ball security during his 70-yard interception return:
"It was scary. But nice play by Antwon Blake."
* On whether he had ever seen anything like the contingent of Steelers fans who forced Rivers to use a silent count at his own stadium:
"Not to minimize that but, boy, it was similar to a Monday night crowd we had in D.C. in '08. It was similar to the Atlanta crowd we had last year. Those crowds stood out as really unique road crowds. ... We don't take it for granted but we've come to expect it. But that was unique and an awesome feeling, an awesome venue to be in."
* On anything else that impressed Tomlin:
"I can't say enough about the contributions of Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt in terms of their ability to push the pocket."