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Steelers’ 2017 seven-round mock draft

The Steelers have come a step closer to the Super Bowl every year since 2014.

They reached the wild-card round of the playoffs two years ago, the divisional round in 2015 and the conference championship game last year.

The next step is the most difficult. The Steelers have to find a way to get past the Patriots. That might require beating Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium for the first time.

There are players in the 2017 draft who can help with that. Gone are the days when the Steelers felt they could afford to just draft the best player available regardless of position. If they’re going to beat the Patriots, they’re going to have to fill specific needs. They have to improve their pass coverage and they haven’t had a player with double-digit sacks since 2010, the last year they reached the Super Bowl.


This mock draft starts in the seventh round to build up the suspense before the unveiling of the Steelers’ first-round pick.

(, NFL Draft Scout and Pro Football Focus were used for scouting information.)

Round 7 (No. 248)

Jeremy Clark, CB, Michigan

Jeremy Clark tore his ACL in the third game of the 2016 season, but the Steelers are willing to take a flier on him this late in the draft. No cornerback who was invited to the scouting combine is taller than the 6’3″ Clark, and at 220 pounds Clark is the heaviest corner who took part in the combine even if all he could do was bench press. His 20 repetitions in the bench press was third among cornerbacks. This doesn’t mean the Steelers will wait until the seventh round to draft a cornerback, but how early will they choose the other one?

Round 6 (No. 213)

Dan Skipper, OT, Arkansas

The Steelers draft someone who Alejandro Villanueva can look up to. Literally. If the Steelers draft Skipper and he makes the team, he won’t necessarily take over for Villanueva at left tackle, but he’ll beat him out as the tallest player on the team. The 6’10”, 309-pounder started 39 games at left tackle since 2014. While offensive line is a strength, the Steelers could use some depth. Jerald Hawkins, a fourth-round pick last year, sat out the season with a torn labrum. He’ll have the chance to be the third tackle in 2017, but Skipper could be an asset on special teams. He used his height to block three field goals at Arkansas.

Round 5 (No. 173)

Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Miami

Robert Golden is a nice role player, but the Steelers need more safety depth behind Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis. In four seasons at Miami, Rayshawn Jenkins intercepted nine passes and broke up 15, including a career-high seven last season. The 6’1″, 214-pounder placed in the top five among safeties at the combine in the bench press, vertical leap and broad jump. There’s a chance the Steelers have to trade up a few spots to get Jenkins, possibly giving up a draft pick next season.

Round 4 (No. 135)

Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama

Ryan Anderson probably will be the fourth defensive player drafted from Alabama this year, but don’t expect the first three to needle him about that. “Everybody in the locker room at Alabama respects him and is afraid of him,” one scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Anderson isn’t the most physically gifted linebacker, but he improved every year in several statistical categories. In four seasons at Alabama, Anderson had 19 sacks, 39.5 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. Anderson seems like an AFC North kind of guy, and one NFC specifically told that he would be a good fit in Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

Round 3 (No. 105)

Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

Pronounced (Tawn-o Pass-N-Yo), this 6’7″, 289-pounder was sixth in the FCS with 21.5 tackles for loss and tied for fifth with 11 sacks. He had a sack, two hits and a hurry at the Senior Bowl. Intelligence wouldn’t be a problem with Kpassagnon. He was an accounting-finance double major. Kpassagnon boasts 35 5/8″ arms and 10 5/8″ hands. Drafting physical freaks like this doesn’t always work out. Kpassagnon has been compared in a couple of places to Margus Hunt, a 6’8″, 277-pounder who the Bengals took in the second round of the 2013 draft. Hunt had 1.5 sacks in four seasons and is now in Indianapolis. The Steelers are willing to take the risk after addressing needs with their first three picks, using their compensatory pick on a player who they don’t need to contribute right away. The Steelers went the FCS route with Javon Hargrave last year and he’s heading in the right direction.

Round 3 (No. 94)

D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas

Le’Veon Bell needs a backup and DeAngelo Williams‘ work in Pittsburgh is done. The 6’0″, 233-pound Foreman broke out for 2,028 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2016. Foreman isn’t a finished product. He fumbled six times in 2016 and he’s not a good pass protector. But like Kpassagnon, the Steelers wouldn’t need him to contribute right away. They just need someone who gives Bell enough rest to make it through a full regular season and postseason for the first time in his career.

Round 2 (No. 62)

Jordan Willis, OLB, Kansas State

The Steelers are going to pick an edge rusher in one of the first two rounds. Jordan Willis is the 2016 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. That has to be taken with a grain of salt. Kansas State went 6-3 in the conference but twice allowed 38 points and allowed 43 points in one game. The only defensive player from Kansas State to make the Pro Bowl since 2000 is cornerback Terence Newman. That’s why the Steelers buffer their pass-rushing haul in this draft with the SEC guy in the fourth round.

Despite the risk of drafting defensive players from the Big 12, Willis won’t last until Day 3. He had 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss last season, both career highs. He had three passes defended, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in both 2015 and 2016. The 6’4″, 255-pound Willis was second at the combine among defensive ends and outside linebackers in the 40-yard dash (4.53), vertical leap (39 inches) and third in the 3-cone drill (6.85). Bud Dupree‘s arrow is pointing up, but James Harrison won’t play forever. The Steelers need to keep the supply line moving at outside linebacker.

Round 1 (No. 30)

Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

The Steelers hope to achieve with cornerbacks what they did with offensive linemen. They drafted four offensive linemen in the first two rounds of the draft between 2010 and 2012. That line now includes two Pro Bowlers and Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 37 times in the last two seasons. There have been six single seasons when he’s been sacked more than that.

Tre’Davious White would be the Steelers’ third cornerback drafted in Rounds 1 or 2 since 2015 and the second consecutive one chosen in the first round. White’s interception numbers don’t stand out. He had six interceptions in four years at LSU, two each in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Last season was a bounceback year for White after a disappointing 2015, and he broke up a career-high 14 passes. Steadiness and consistency seem to be a theme with White in the scouting community. According to Pro Football Focus White allowed a completion rate of 41.7 percent last season. White isn’t the most physical tackler, but neither was Artie Burns coming out of college and so far he looks like a thumbs-up pick. “He’s kind of soft, but he can cover,” one NFC scout told about White.

The 5’11”, 192-pound White has been pegged as a second-rounder in some places, but the Steelers are picking so late in the first round that this wouldn’t exactly be a reach.

White wore the No. 18 jersey at LSU in 2016. Not just anyone wears No. 18 at LSU. The tradition of that number began when quarterback Matt Mauck wore it in 2003 and led LSU to a national championship. Since then, it’s been worn by a player who’s successful both on and off the field and displays a selfless attitude.

Whatever number White wears in Pittsburgh, the Steelers hope no one else wears it for a long time.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

Steelers 2017 mock schedule predicts make-or-break midseason, late-season prime time games

This is the time of year when we take a short break from mock drafts and try some mock schedules.

The 2017 NFL schedule is set to be released Thursday night. Let’s try to do the work of a supercomputer and predict the Steelers’ 2017 schedule.

Week 1

Jacksonville, Sept. 10

The Steelers are 0-2 against the Jaguars in season openers, losing at Jacksonville in 1996 and 2001. Tom Coughlin was the head coach both times. Now after 15 years away he brings his two Super Bowl rings to Jacksonville, this time as executive vice president of football operations. If he ends up firing Doug Marrone and hiring himself as head coach, it probably won’t happen by Week 1.

Week 2

At Detroit, Sept. 17

This will be the Steelers’ fifth trip to Detroit since Chuck Noll became coach. Two of the four previous visits came on Thanksgiving, and the Steelers lost both of those. They fell 45-3 on the holiday in 1983 and 19-16 in the Phil Luckett game in 1998. They won non-Thanksgiving games at Detroit in 1989 and 2009.

Week 3

At Cleveland, Sept. 21

The Steelers play two road games in their obligatory Sunday-Thursday turnaround, but it’s their two shortest trips of the season. The only other time the Steelers went to Cleveland on a Thursday night, they lost 13-6 to the 1-11 Browns for their fifth straight loss in 2009. The Steelers finished that season 9-7 and despite that losing streak would have made the playoffs with just one more win. There’s little chance the wind chill in Cleveland will be minus-6 in September like it was in that December game in ’09.

Week 4

Green Bay, Oct. 1

The last time the Steelers played the Packers this early in the season was 1992. It was Bill Cowher‘s first career loss.

Week 5


The Steelers better rest up, because the next four games are brutal.

Week 6

Cincinnati, Oct. 15

After their epic playoff battle in 2015, it was surprising to see the Steelers and Bengals play two 1 p.m. games last season. The rivalry returns to Sunday Night Football in 2017.

Week 7

Baltimore, Oct. 22

The Ravens will be looking to end their uncharacteristic two-year playoff drought. This won’t be an easy win regardless of records. This could be on the 4 p.m. stage on CBS. If he hasn’t already, Tony Romo could announce his first Steelers game here.

Week 8

At Cincinnati, Oct. 29

The Steelers have won 15 of their last 17 games at Cincinnati, including playoffs. The Steelers’ schedule is tied for the fifth-easiest according to That’s based on 2016 opponent records. The Ravens and Bengals combined to go 14-17-1, but the Steelers won’t feel like they have a soft schedule in the midst of this four-game, post-bye stretch.

Week 9

At Kansas City, Nov. 5

The Steelers beat the Bengals 18-16 at Cincinnati in the 2015 playoffs. They beat the Chiefs 18-16 at Kansas City in the 2016 playoffs. In this schedule scenario, they revisit both cities on back-to-back weekends.

Week 10

Tennessee, Nov. 12

The Steelers face Marcus Mariota for the first time. If he makes a big leap in his third season, then this won’t be a reprieve coming off the Cincinnati-Baltimore-Cincinnati-Kansas City leg of the Steelers’ schedule. This also is the first time Mike Mularkey will coach against the Steelers since the 2004 regular-season finale when the Steelers won at Buffalo.

Week 11

At Houston, Nov. 19

The Texans’ quarterback figures to be either Tom Savage or a rookie. If it’s the latter, the Steelers better hope this quarterback class is as mediocre as the experts say it is considering who awaits the following week.

Week 12

New England, Nov. 26

This figures to be another Sunday Night Football game and the first of three prime-time games for the Steelers in the last six weeks of the season. Whether the Steelers win this game or not, they’ll probably have to get past Tom Brady and the Patriots in the playoffs to make their first Super Bowl appearance in seven years. Brady is 10-2 in his career against the Steelers. There’s no lack of familiarity between these teams, but this is the first time during the Brady Era that the Steelers will play the Patriots three years in a row.

Week 13

At Chicago, Dec. 3

The Steelers’ .288 all-time winning percentage against the Bears is their worst against any opponent except the St. Louis Gunners. The St. Louis Gunners? That’s right. The Steelers were known as the Pirates when they lost 6-0 at St. Louis in their only game against the Gunners in 1934. The Steelers are 7-18-1 against the Bears. The last time they beat them was the Jerome Bettis snow game in 2005.

Week 14

Minnesota, Dec. 10

The Steelers wrap up their interconference play with this matchup. The Steelers are 35-15 against NFC teams in Ben Roethlisberger‘s career, but haven’t swept all four games vs. NFC opponents since 2005, the year they won Super Bowl XL. They did play the NFC North that year. Then again, they played the NFC North when they started 0-4 in 2013 with two of those losses coming to the Bears and Vikings.

Week 15

Dec. 18, At Indianapolis

The Steelers play the Colts in prime time for the third straight year. They hosted them on Sunday Night Football in 2015, on Thanksgiving night last year at Indianapolis and on Monday Night Football in this mock schedule. Andrew Luck was sidelined for those two previous meetings. Who knows if he’ll be healthy for this one. On the other hand, Ben Roethlisberger’s availability hasn’t been a given over the last couple of seasons.

Week 16

Dec. 24, At Baltimore

This year, the Ravens host the pivotal holiday matchup in this rivalry. Instead of an afternoon game on Christmas Day, they play a prime time game on Christmas Eve.

Week 17

Dec. 31, Cleveland

Since Week 17 division games became mandatory in 2011, this would be the sixth time the Steelers have finished the season against the Browns. The only time they didn’t, they closed out the season against the Bengals in 2014. It would be nice if the Steelers and Ravens could hook up in the regular-season finale one of these years. But the game is such a hot TV property that the networks probably don’t want to risk one or both of these teams resting their starters in a meaningless game. So after the Steelers and Ravens throw a wrench in Christmas plans for the second straight year, Steelers fans can probably go ahead and make plans for New Year’s Eve. Unless all 11 Browns draft picks instantly become Pro Bowlers, it’s doubtful this game gets flexed to Sunday night.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

Steelers running out of time to win another title in Roethlisberger Era

Tom Brady denied the Steelers a trip to the Super Bowl for the third time in his career Sunday, leading the Patriots to a 36-17 win over the Steelers in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium.

This loss didn’t come with the immediate heartbreak of last year’s playoff loss or some other Steelers’ playoff losses in the last decade. There was no Fitzgerald Toussaint fumble. There was no “What just happened” overtime touchdown pass from Tim Tebow. There was no 32-yard scramble on fourth-and-2 by David Garrard.

After their playoff loss at Denver last year, when Toussaint’s fumble set up the winning drive, Mike Tomlin talked about how he was looking forward to scouting for the draft. The Steelers were three minutes away from beating the eventual Super Bowl champions without Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. There was a sense that the Steelers, if they could stay healthy, had a legitimate shot to win their seventh Super Bowl in 2016.

All that optimism seemed laughable when the Steelers were 4-5 at midseason, but then they won nine straight. It was their longest winning streak since 2004, but the Patriots terminated both of those streaks in conference title games. They beat the Steelers 41-27 at Pittsburgh in 2004, ending their 15-game run.

Even in that game, the Steelers rallied. They fell behind by 21 and pulled to within 11.

On Sunday, there was no such tease.

This was the Steelers’ biggest margin of defeat in a playoff game since they lost 28-3 to the Drew Bledsoe-led Patriots at New England in the 1996 divisional round. Unlike last season in Denver, there will be no specific plays that haunt Steelers fans for the next eight months.

Instead of a “What if?” hanging over the offseason, there’s a sense of “Now what?”

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Steelers still can catch Patriots in Team of the Century race

Perhaps you’ve heard once, twice or 100 times this week that the Steelers have never beaten a Tom Brady-led Patriots team at Gillette Stadium.

That’s just what they’ll have to do to win the AFC championship game Sunday and advance to Super Bowl LI.

Steelers wins over the Patriots in any circumstance have been rare since Brady took Drew Bledsoe‘s job in 2001. Steelers fans remember those wins so fondly that they seem more frequent than they really are.

Since Bill Belichick resigned as HC of the NYJ, the Steelers are 3-9 against the Patriots. That’s right, to paraphrase Bob Uecker in “Major League,” just three, um, gosh darn wins.

If there’s any rivalry at all between the Steelers and Patriots, the Patriots own the scoreboard when it comes to regular-season wins, playoff wins and championships.

Let’s just say the last 16 years are a metaphor for a football game. We could call it the Team of the Century Bowl, and the Patriots’ four championships during that time represent a two-touchdown lead over the Steelers’ two championships.

When the Steelers took a historic 55-31 whoopin’ at Gillette Stadium in 2013, it said in this space that the Steelers could forget about ever calling the Patriots rivals in this era. And that was before the Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl in 2014.

The Steelers were two years removed from their last playoff berth, began that season 0-4 and dropped to 2-6 on that day in which Shamarko Thomas, yes Shamarko Thomas, actually tried to cover Rob Gronkowski. Brady was 36 at the time. The Steelers seemed so far away from contending for a championship that if it did happen, it would be after Brady retired.

How nice it was of Brady to put off retirement long enough to meet the Steelers one more time in an AFC championship game.

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Steelers vs. Chiefs: 5 burning questions facing Pittsburgh

The Steelers are in a better situation this year than they were heading into their divisional round playoff game last year.

Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell both are healthy and ready to go for Sunday’s game at Kansas City. Ben Roethlisberger‘s arm is fully functional. Whatever damage was done to his foot in garbage time of the Steelers’ wild-card win over the Dolphins, it was nothing close to what Vontaze Burfict inflicted in last year’s wild-card game.

That said, for the third-seeded Steelers (11-5) to reach the AFC championship game for the first time in six years, they have to win a divisional-round game on the road, which they’ve done just three times in their history.

The most recent was their shocking 21-18 win at Indianapolis in 2005. Before that? You have to go back to 1984, when they beat John Elway and the Broncos 24-17 at Denver.

It wouldn’t take such a monumental upset for the Steelers to beat the second-seeded Chiefs (12-4). According to Sports Book Review, the Steelers are 1.5-point underdogs. All the home teams are favored this weekend, but Vegas gives the Steelers the best chance to win among the underdogs in a game that has been moved from 1 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. because of ice storms in Kansas City.

There’s a certain dynamic in the divisional playoffs where teams coming off wild-card wins face teams that are out-of-sight, out-of-mind because they’ve had a first-round bye. This often inflates the visiting team’s stock.

While a Steelers win on Sunday is very realistic, there are plenty of reasons to beware the Chiefs.

Can the Steelers stop Tyreek Hill?

That’s the elephant-in-the-room question facing the Steelers in this game.

The Steelers allowed 24.7 yards per kickoff return this season, third-most in the league. They allowed allowed 9.6 yards per punt return, ninth-most in the league according to

Rookie Tyreek Hill returned two punts and one kickoff for touchdowns this season. Hidden in the Steelers’ 43-14 win over the Chiefs at Pittsburgh in Week 4 were Hill’s two kickoff returns for a total of a 54 yards and two punt returns for 20 yards.

The Steelers were heavy favorites against the Patriots in the 2001 AFC championship game, but were burned on special teams. They lost 24-17 with the Patriots scoring touchdowns on a punt return and a blocked field goal.

The Steelers aren’t even favorites in this game, which gives them even less of a margin for error on special teams.

Can the Steelers beat Andy Reid following a bye?

Not only do the Steelers have to worry about a 5’10”, 185-pound missile on kickoff and punt returns, they also have to worry about that big tomato on the sideline.

Or at least that’s what Andy Reid looks like when he wears red.

The Chiefs earned a first-round bye with the No. 2 seed. Reid is 19-2 in his career coming off a bye week. That includes a 3-0 mark in the playoffs, although those three postseason wins came in another lifetime. He coached the Eagles to three straight divisional-round home wins from 2002-2004.

That much be ancient history, but Reid’s bye-week prowess is as evident as it’s ever been this season. The Chiefs had their bye after losing 43-14 at Pittsburgh, then in Week 6 went to Oakland and beat a 4-1 Raiders team 26-10. The Raiders won six straight after that, then went to Kansas City and lost 21-13.

The Chiefs won at Denver after last year’s bye week, beating the eventual Super Bowl champions 29-13. The Chiefs had won two straight before the bye week after a 1-5 start, but neither win was very convincing. They beat the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger and then beat the Lions at London.

But after the bye they showed they were for real by beating Denver, and ended up winning 11 in a row.

That’s what happens when Reid has two weeks to prepare.

Can Ben Roethlisberger take his show on the road?

Ben Roethlisberger’s road performance this season and the Chiefs’ penchant for takeaways are a bad combination for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger has thrown 20 touchdown passes and five interceptions at home this season. On the road, he’s thrown nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Roethlisberger has completed 70.8 percent of his passes at home and only 59.4 percent on the road.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, led the NFL with 33 takeaways and tied for the league lead with 18 interceptions.

Since the game-winning drive that brought the Steelers their sixth championship in 2008, Roethlisberger has thrown nine touchdown passes and nine interceptions in eight playoff games.

If Roethlisberger doesn’t take care of the ball Sunday, the Steelers will be lucky if they’re in position to win with a last-minute drive similar to Super Bowl XLIII.

Can the Steelers beat a legitimate starting quarterback?

Nobody puts Alex Smith on their list of the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks. There’s no disputing that he’s a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL, but if he were a guy in the dating world he’d always be in the friend zone.

In the playoffs Smith has been a “friend” who can be trusted … with the football.

Smith has thrown 11 touchdown passes and one interception in five playoff games. He’s 2-3 in those games. He hasn’t brought the 49ers or the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, but he’s better than the last two quarterbacks the Steelers have beaten in playoff games. Last Sunday’s win came over backup Matt Moore and last year’s win at Cincinnati came against backup A.J. McCarron. In between, the Steelers lost to creaky-armed Peyton Manning.

The last time the Steelers faced a formidable starting quarterback in the playoffs, they lost to Joe Flacco and the Ravens in 2014.

But the Steelers did beat Andy Dalton on the road and Flacco at home in critical December games this year. It will take that kind of performance to keep Smith from busting out of the friend zone Sunday.

On the bright side, the Steelers are 5-2 against the Chiefs since Roethlisberger’s career started, and the Chiefs have never beaten the Steelers in a game that Roethlisberger has finished. Landry Jones started at Kansas City last season, a game the Chiefs won 23-13.

In 2009, the Chiefs beat the Steelers 27-24 in overtime. Roethlisberger left that game with a concussion.

How hard is it to win at Arrowhead Stadium?

The venue where the game will be played is one of the Steelers’ easier hurdles.

There is a certain mystique associated with the Chiefs’ home-field advantage at Arrowhead Stadium, but winning there isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be.

Since 2013, the Steelers and Chiefs both are 23-9 at home. They’re tied for the league’s seventh-best home record during that time. The Patriots’ 28-4 home record is the best. Arrowhead might have reclaimed the crowd-noise record from CenturyLink Field, but the Seahawks have a better home record (26-6) than the Chiefs since 2013. The Broncos are tied with the Seahawks for the second-best home record since 2013.

The Bengals are (23-7-2) are fourth in that category, the Packers and Cardinals (both 23-8-1) are tied for fifth and the Panthers join the Steelers and Chiefs in a tie for seventh.

The last four years are used as the time frame because the Chiefs hired Andy Reid as coach in 2013 and they’ve had a winning record every year since.

The Steelers are 10-7 all-time at Kansas City, but the last time they’ve beaten a Chiefs team that’s made the playoffs at Arrowhead was 1992.

The good news is that the two quarterbacks who have won at Arrowhead this year are the top two picks of the 2015 draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

If they can do it, so can Roethlisberger.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

It’s OK for Steelers fans to hate the Dolphins

It’s hard for Steelers fans to hate the Dolphins as much as they hate the Bengals.

But they can try.

Sunday’s AFC wild card game at Heinz Field doesn’t come with the animosity of last year’s wild-card game. We don’t have the Twitter wars that we had last year between the Steelers and Bengals.

Part of that is because the Steelers don’t face the Dolphins twice a year. They lost to them 30-15 in Week 6 at Miami, but Ben Roethlisberger has faced them just seven times in his 13-year career. There isn’t enough familiarity to breed the contempt that exists between the Steelers and Bengals.

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Mike Tomlin can make Steelers great again

The Steelers have staged two of the greatest comebacks in recent franchise history this week.

First, they rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Ravens 31-27 Sunday and clinch the AFC North.

Then on Tuesday, Mike Tomlin had a comeback for Terry Bradshaw‘s criticism of him last week.

The former Steelers quarterback said that Tomlin isn’t a great coach, that he’s more of a “cheerleader” guy. Tomlin acknowledged in his weekly news conference that he’s a long way from being a great coach, but also said that Bradshaw calling him a cheerleader was over the line.

“But what do I know?” Tomlin said via “I grew up a Dallas fan. Particularly a (Thomas) ‘Hollywood’ Henderson fan.”

Henderson famously said that Bradshaw wouldn’t be able to spell “cat” if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘a,’ and it seems as though Tomlin doesn’t disagree with that sentiment four decades later.

Bradshaw wouldn’t have come off as such a buffoon if he had said that Tomlin is only the third-best coach in Steelers history. In that case he would have been right, and there’s no shame in being the third-best coach in the history of a franchise that has won six Super Bowls.

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Le’Veon Bell driving Steelers offense like a Bus

Perhaps Dec. 11 should be a holiday in Pittsburgh.

Not only is it the day that Le’Veon Bell ran for a franchise-record 236 yards in the Steelers’ 27-20 win at Buffalo, it’s also the day of Jerome Bettis‘ last 100-yard rushing game.

Exactly 11 years before Bell’s performance for the ages on Sunday, Bettis ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-9 win over the Bears at Heinz Field.

Both games were played in the snow, and while it’s hard to pick one run that defined Bell’s day on Sunday because there were so many of them, that 2005 game will forever be remembered for the Bus running over Brian Urlacher for a touchdown.

The Steelers had lost three in a row, and that Bettis-powered win over the Bears is what started their storied run to Super Bowl XL. The Steelers won four straight games to get into the playoffs and four more to become the first No. 6 seed to win a Super Bowl.

That Urlacher pancaking is about all I’ve seen from that game, because I didn’t watch it. I was sort of disgusted with their three-game losing streak, so as Robin Williams put it in “Good Will Hunting,” I decided to “see about a girl” instead of watch the Steelers that day.

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LeSean McCoy will test Steelers’ improved run defense

Is anyone else nervous about the Steelers’ game Sunday at Buffalo?

The Steelers (7-5) have won three straight and they’re 12-2 in December (counting regular-season games in January) since 2013. Steelers wins have become almost as much a part of December as candy canes and carolers.

Throw in the fact that the Steelers are 5-0 against the Bills in this century, including three wins at Buffalo, and it’s easy to relax on this game.

Don’t do it.

It’s not that this is a trap game. The Bills (6-6) aren’t the kind of cupcake opponent the Steelers have had trouble with in recent years. Even if they were, the Steelers have been working hard to kick their habit of losing to bad teams, winning at Cleveland in Week 11 and at Indianapolis in Week 12.

Those victories over the winless Browns and the Scott Tolzien-led Colts weren’t enough to convince most people that the Steelers had fully recovered from their four-game losing streak. The Steelers might have sold a few more people with last Sunday’s win over the Giants at Heinz Field, but for us to really believe in the Steelers they need to beat a team on the road that’s fighting for its playoff life. A win over the Bills would restore that Week 1 swagger they had at Washington.

But it won’t be easy, because while the Steelers’ run defense has improved vastly since Ezekiel Elliott broke Pittsburgh’s heart in Week 10, none of the running backs they’ve faced over the last three weeks come close to LeSean McCoy.

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Le’Veon Bell’s best milestone would be playoff game

If Le’Veon Bell runs for 100 or more yards Sunday against the Giants at Heinz Field, it will be the first time in his career that he’s done it in three straight games.

He’ll have his work cut out for him. The Giants haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher this season and are third in the league with 3.5 yards allowed per rush attempt.

Even if Bell falls short of the century mark, all he needs is 74 yards to pass Rashard Mendenhall for ninth place on the Steelers’ all-time rushing list.

Bell broke into the top 10 on that list last week at Indianapolis, passing Walter Abercrombie. The 24-year-old Bell, who has run for 3,476 yards, is already racking up the career milestones, but before he leaves Mendenhall in his dust it should be noted that Mendenhall did some things that Bell hasn’t done. He appeared in playoff games and helped the Steelers get to a Super Bowl.

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