Tomlin ‘Smiles in the Face of Adversity’ as Steelers Tackle Myriad of Injuries

Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin during the matchup against the Cleveland Browns. October 28, 2018 (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media, FILE)

PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that injuries are a part of the game. The realization of adjusting for the sudden — and always unexpected — changes in personnel can throw off team chemistry. However, Coach Tomlin has preached the, “next man up” approach on the journey to success as his team continues to heal.

Since the beginning of the 2019 season, the Steelers lost starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season due to an elbow injury on his throwing arm which required surgery. Starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt is out for the year with a pectoral tear, free safety Sean Davis was put on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, fullback Roosevelt Nix is also on IR with a knee ailment and kick returner/WR Ryan Switzer’s back will keep him from seeing action. Running back James Conner has missed significant time on the field as well when he re-aggravated his shoulder. Most recently, wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson in addition to linebacker Ola Adeniyi succumbed to concussions in the game against the Browns last Thursday night, just to name a few. Quite a few, actually.

While the team has seen its fair share of fallen players, Tomlin said in his weekly press conference Tuesday, “I don’t spend a lot of time crying over who’s available or who’s not available. It’s as much a part of the game as blocking or tackling,” Tomlin said. “If you are a competitor — like we as coaches are competitors — that fires you up. You want to smile in the face of adversity.” 

The Steelers will play on the road Sunday Nov. 24 against the winless Cincinnati Bengals (0-10), a team that would love to get a win against the Pittsburgh. The Steelers (5-5) are still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt and in 2nd place in the AFC North division.


Two Starting Wideouts in Steelers’ Concussion Protocol

Steelers wide receivers Diontae Johnson (18) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) share a moment on the sideline after Johnson’s 45-yard touchdown reception against the Miami Dolphins on October 28, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Banged up wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are added to the list of starters who have temporarily fallen victim to injuries. 

In the game against the Cleveland Browns Thursday, both standouts left the game with concussions and as of Monday, were still in concussion protocol. Neither were available for interviews.

JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game after suffering a helmet-to-helmet hit. In the second quarter, 2 defenders, [former Steeler] Morgan Burnett and Greedy Williams made contact with both sides of Smith-Schuster’s helmet, on the same play, leaving him motionless on the field. He was later able to walk off the field on his own.

Smith-Schuster took to his Twitter account to thank those who were supportive following his injury:

As for Diontae Johnson, Browns safety Damarious Randall lowered his head and collided in the third quarter with Johnson after a helmet-to-helmet hit, leaving him wincing in pain. Johnson started bleeding from his ear shortly thereafter. The hit prompted an immediate ejection of Randall.

The Steelers announced the signings of two receivers, Quadree Henderson and Amara Darboh, Thursday in addition to additional roster moves.

In a statement from the Steelers:

“The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed wide receiver Deon Cain and running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. to the 53-man roster, it was announced today. To make room on the 53-man roster, the Steelers released linebacker Jayrone Elliott and running back Tony Brooks-James.”



BREAKING: Suspensions, Fines Handed Down Following Steelers Browns Fight

Screenshot of the fight between the Steelers and Browns on November 14, 2019 in Cleveland. (Courtesy: FOX)

(GSM) — Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has been suspended without salary for the remainder of the 2019 NFL season following an altercation with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. 

The incident took place in Cleveland during the Thursday night matchup with 8-seconds left to play in the game where Garrett forcibly removed Rudolph’s helmet and hit him over the head with it. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey proceeded to throw punches, striking Garrett several times prior to kicking him while on the ground.

The National Football League hit both the Steelers and Browns with stiff financial penalties and said in a statement, “The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns organizations have each been fined $250,000 and three players – Cleveland’s MYLES GARRETT and LARRY OGUNJOBI, and Pittsburgh’s MAURKICE POUNCEY – have been suspended without pay for their actions in Thursday night’s game,” The statement read. “Garrett has been suspended without pay indefinitely – at a minimum for the remainder of the regular season and postseason – and must meet with the commissioner’s office prior to a decision on his reinstatement.  He was also fined an additional amount.  Garrett violated unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, as well as fighting, removing the helmet of an opponent and using the helmet as a weapon.”

Art Rooney II, president of the Pittsburgh Steelers released a statement on the incident:

“As an organization, we are disappointed with what occurred last night near the end of our game against the Cleveland Browns. The actions of the players involved were not something that should be part of any football game. Our players, coaches and everyone in the Steelers organization understand that we must always maintain composure, no matter what happens. After a hard-fought game between two rivals, it is a shame that the game ended that way.”

The Cleveland Browns also commented publicly about what transpired Thursday night via owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam: 

“We are extremely disappointed in what transpired last evening at the end of our game. There is no place for that in football and that is not reflective of the core values we strive for as an organization. We sincerely apologize to Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Myles Garrett has been a good teammate and member of our organization and community for the last three years but his actions last night were completely unacceptable. We understand the consequences from the league for his actions.”


Steelers Stave off Rams in Aaron Donald’s Return to Pittsburgh

Steelers wide receiver James Washington (13) and running back Jaylen Samuels celebrate following a touchdown in the 1st quarter against the Los Angeles Rams on November 10, 2019 at Heinz Field (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Lining them up and knocking them down. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won 4 straight and are currently the 6th seed in the playoff race. That’s right, if the playoffs were to start today, the black-n-gold would be in the race for their 7th ring. But it’s only week 11 which means there are more left games to be played.
Speaking of games, the Los Angeles Rams made their way across country to Heinz Field Sunday to face the streaking Steelers and got off to an early start, scoring a defensive touchdown on a high snap that went over the head of quarterback Mason Rudolph. the Rams’ Donta Fowler, Jr. picked up the fumble for a score. Despite the early lead in the 1st quarter, Pittsburgh responded with a touchdown of their own late in the 1st after Rudolph connected with wideout James Washington to even the score to 7-7.
Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick returns an interception against the Los Angeles Rams to secure victory on November 10, 2019 at Heinz Field. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)
Steelers Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick continues to make clutch plays. He had two takeaways in the game, one fumble recovery for a touchdown — of course as retaliation — helping Pittsburgh rack up a defensive score of their own, and an interception at the end of the game to seal the deal. Fitzpatrick attributes his success to his teammates in addition to referencing his own ball awareness.
Final score was 17-12 in favor of the Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin praising his defense moments after the win.

“We have been open about that we need turnovers. Great defenses get themselves off the field. Great defenses stand up in the face of adversity when put on a short field. We have worked hard in that area.” Tomlin said, “It starts first with the acquisition of guys that are capable in that area. Can’t say enough about Minkah for example. The tear he is on is what it is; he needs no endorsement from me. But it is also our approach and who we work in the environmental element of our preparation. We just have to keep grinding.

Coach Tomlin says it always takes mental and physical strength to seal the deal. “…today we played, and I thought they played and played to win without fear. When you are playing a good opponent like the L.A. Rams, that is how you have to play. Thankfully, we are able to get a victory.”
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald returned to his hometown Pittsburgh to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 10, 2019. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)
On the other side of the ball, former University of Pittsburgh defensive end Aaron Donald, now defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams is a native of Pittsburgh. He mentioned how it was a nice homecoming for both he and the people who watched him grow into the player he is today. “This is home. To be back at Heinz Field — where I played 4-years here in college [University of Pittsburgh] —  to be back here performing and to back here at home with my family watching, family and friends, it’s a good feeling.”
Donald was instrumental on defense, recording a half sack along with linebacker Clay Matthews which resulted in a safety. Despite his performance, Donald expressed his disappointment as his team came up short.
“I feel like we played well as a defense. We scored points, made turnovers, and made big stops,” Donald said. “There is always room for improvement, but I felt like overall I was proud of how the defense played today.” – Aaron Donald
The Steelers, however are on a short week and travel to face the Cleveland Browns — for the first of two matchups this season on Thursday night. The Browns defeated the Bills Sunday with a record of 3-6 and are in 3rd place in the AFC North behind the Steelers who are in 2nd with a record of 5-4. The Ravens are currently leading the division — 2 games ahead of Pittsburgh — at 7-2.


Steelers Hold Off Colts at Home in Close Matchup

Steelers Tight End Vance McDonald flexes after scoring a touchdown in the game against the Indianapolis Colts on November 3, 2019 at Heinz FIeld in Pittsburgh. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)

PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The Steelers are currently sitting at .500 with a record of 4-4 so far on the season and are in second place in the AFC North behind the Baltimore Ravens to handed the Patriots their first loss of the season. As for the Steelers, however, they defeated the Indianapolis Colts Sunday 26-24 at Heinz Field.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 43-yard kick which could have turn the tides of the game. A man of a few words after the game, “I just missed it. I have to do better than that. Just pulled it left.”
In his post game press conference, Steelers Head coach Mike Tomlin is happy about his team’s victory, however saying there is more work to be done to continue winning. “It is great to get a win versus a winning team. That team had been in a bunch of close games and won a lot of them. It’s good when you can be in a game against a team that is used to winning in close games and pull it out, so we are thankful for that. We have some things to fix, obviously, red zone execution and so forth.” Tomlin said, “But we will address it and address it with the win. It is good to be .500 at the turn like we talked about early in the week given where we have come from. It’s going to still be a while. We will work forever trying to get that September stench off of us, but that is life in this thing, and I appreciate the effort and fight. It is good to be sitting at 4-4.”


Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, has played lights out since joining the Steelers in week 3 of the 2019 season. Since that time, he has 4 interceptions, one of which he took 96 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Colts. “I was just reading the quarterback. He looked right first, then he looked hard left, shoulders turned and everything, so I just started drifting that way. He let go of the ball and I went and got it.”

Steelers linebackers Budd Dupree and TJ Watt celebrate after recording a sack in the game against the Indianapolis Colts on November 3, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)
Linebacker Budd Dupree was also instrumental in the success of the defensive stand with a forced fumble and 2 sacks. Both he and TJ Watt had big plays for losses. Watt recorded 1 and a half sacks and says he and Dupree are working well together as a linebacker tandem.
Next up, the Steelers host the 5-3 Los Angeles Rams who sit at 3rd place in the NFC West behind the unbeaten 49ers and Seahawks, both of whom beat the Steelers this season.