By BOB LABRIOLA
Steelers.com The presentation of the Lombardi Trophy to the winning team is the longest-tenured Super Bowl tradition, but there's another seemingly linked to a team being able to take home the prize.
Because there usually is a two-week span between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, and because the hype surrounding every Super Bowl makes normalcy impossible, the teams that have had the most success in the game usually get a lot of work done during the time before they arrive on site.
Coach Mike Tomlin will follow a similar course, which was brought to the Steelers by Chuck Noll during the team's first Super Bowl win, following the 1974 season.
"This is a normal Tuesday for us," said Tomlin during his weekly news conference at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex. "We met with our football team yesterday after 2 o'clock, reviewed our performance from the AFC Championship Game. Laid out our plan for the week, and our plan, really more than anything, is business as usual."
Business as usual for the Steelers this season has been for the players to be off on Tuesday, and when they arrive on Wednesday morning they're presented with the game plan for the upcoming opponent.
There are meetings and practices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and then on Saturday there are more meetings and maybe a walk-through, "like we normally do," said Tomlin, "as if we are going to play on Sunday. But of course we are not playing on Sunday this week."
The Steelers aren't playing this Sunday, and the extra time not only will be used to heal their bodies but also to edit their game plan. During the team's previous byes this season – in October and then during the Wild Card Round of these playoffs – Tomlin used the first of the two weeks to work on fundamentals.
For this game, it'll be different. Actual game preparation will begin on Wednesday morning.
"One of the things that we have a commitment to doing is not to close the door to any potential additions or subtractions as we move down to Tampa," said Tomlin. "As we prepare this week we want complete normalcy in our daily routine in the comforts of our facility. So that's what we're doing right now. We're preparing and putting together a game plan as a coaching staff as if we're going to play this Sunday, with the knowledge that we have an opportunity for a do-over next week, with an opportunity to analyze what we put together."
Even though Tomlin is taking the Steelers to the Super Bowl in just his second season, and he is the youngest coach ever to take a team there, (36 years and 323 days old as of Feb. 1) he has been handling the whole thing like an old hand.
"I'm pretty good at (maintaining normalcy)," said Tomlin. "I can trick myself. My wife says I'm pretty good at doing that. We are not playing the Super Bowl today. So there is no need for the hair to stand up on the back of my neck today. It's Tuesday. We are putting in a game plan. We need to ready ourselves more than anything for our guys coming into the building (Wednesday) morning to receive the information we're going to have for them. That's where my focus is. I tend to attack the challenges that are right in front of me, the ones that I have today."
And what is never Tomlin's focus is sitting back and basking in the glow of getting to a Super Bowl.
"If I had that mentality, then that would mean I didn't believe what I've said all year, and that is that we're capable of being where we are right now," said Tomlin. "I believed that then. I believe that now, so I'm not going to get enamored with where we are right now."
Just another normal week
By BOB LABRIOLA