The worst thing Coach Mike Tomlin ever would have to say about his team after a game is that it lost. The second-worst thing would be that the Steelers were handled physically.
Regarding last Sunday night's game in Buffalo against the Bills, the scoreboard inside Bills Stadium confirmed the former, and during his weekly news conference from the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Tuesday, Tomlin admitted the latter.
"Like we talked about after the game, I have to tip my cap to Buffalo," said Tomlin to begin the news conference. "They made significant plays and won decisively because of it, to be quite honest with you. When I really look at the tape, you can go through some of the minutiae and things of that nature, but the bottom line is they were the more physical football team. It can be highlighted in terms of their (defensive) front and our inability to run the ball, but just in general, I thought in all elements of play, they were the more physical group."
The Steelers take pride in being a physical team, in being a part of the AFC North, in playing in some of the most physically violent games in recent memory, including the 2008 AFC Championship Game vs. the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. It could not have been easy or pleasant for Tomlin to admit the Bills got the better of the Steelers physically, but according to him it was evident.
"They're a physical football team in general, so they are capable of that," said Tomlin about the Bills. "For us, regardless of circumstance, we don't want to make that common. The comment is true as it pertains to that matchup. We have to be accountable to that, and we are. We have to make sure that we are not saying that moving forward. There haven't been a lot of situations where we can say that, but definitively, I thought they were the more physical group not only in the box and in box play but in some of the perimeter play.
"I thought (Stefon) Diggs at the wide receiver position played a real physical game and made physical-type plays. I thought their coverage people played aggressive and physically. In the return game and in the kicking game, I thought their veteran return guy was vertical and efficient, and they won the battle of field position because of that definitive element of play. We looked at the tape (Monday)."
The Steelers next will play in Cincinnati on Monday night, and if they snap their two-game losing streak by defeating the Bengals, they would clinch the AFC North Division title.
TOMLIN'S INJURY UPDATE
"On an injury note, we are dealing with a number of injuries. Such is life in this game … As you guys know, Matt Feiler is on IR with a pec injury. Some other guys got injured in-game and their availability at the least could be compromised at the early portion of this week. We do have an extra day of preparation, so we are excited about that. (Kevin) Dotson has a shoulder (injury) on the offensive line. (Chuks) Okorafor has an ankle (injury) on the offensive line. (James) Conner has a quad (injury) at running back. Terrell Edmunds has a shoulder. We are excited about potentially getting Joe Haden back who has been in the concussion protocol and is looking to get out of that. Again, we will assess who is available to us. We will formulate a plan to highlight the strengths of that group individually and collectively and work to minimize the weaknesses and prepare to play the Bengals … (Dotson's) availability could be compromised at the early portions of the week. That's why I mentioned him along with the other ones— Okorafor, Edmunds, Conner. We will make all of their availability decisions based on practice and the quality of it."