Labriola on win over Browns

CLEVELAND – It started with a bus ride. Not the one that brought them home from here as AFC North Division champions, but an important bus ride nevertheless.

Early August, the eighth day of their captivity on a college campus. After a dozen on-field practices and more than twice as many meetings, after going through two of those dozen practices in the previous 16 hours, they got on buses built for the normal-sized people they are not, and they rode for six hours, three hours each way for a trip that lasted almost until midnight.

"It was the right thing to do on so many fronts. It was an opportunity for us to support a man we all love and admire in Dick LeBeau, but it was also an opportunity to go to Canton, Ohio, to go to the Hall of Fame and to appreciate the game of football. To appreciate the history of the game of football, and the men who were being recognized that day for doing it at an extremely high level. I just thought it was an educational field trip for a football team that was worth the potential risk of adding another road trip to the group, because that's essentially what we did."

Mike Tomlin believes a coach is responsible for giving his team what it needs at any given moment in time, and his fingerprints are all over these 12-4 Steelers, who won a division title for the third time in his four-year tenure by virtue of their 41-9 decision over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday. So they now get to sit at home during the Wild Card Round of the playoffs and wait for the highest-seeded winner to come to Heinz Field for a Divisional Round game, already set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15.
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The Steelers are division champions, and when it comes time they'll begin their playoff run with a lot of things in their favor. Their quarterback is playing his best football of the season, and their defense has all of its playmakers confident and doing what they do, and they are a unified bunch who play for each other.

That's exactly what the Steelers need right now, which means their coach is on top of his game, too.

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