Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on sacks, Watt and more

Sack attack: The Steelers love to get to the quarterback. And it comes from every direction. That is why, since 2014, the Steelers have record 333 sacks, the most sacks among all NFL teams and 33 more than the next best team. The team has also recorded at least one sack in their last 72 games, a streak that is an NFL record and dates back to the 2016 season.

Coach Mike Tomlin said the reason for that kind of success is the players over scheme, many who have put up big numbers in their careers.

"It starts first and foremost with the guys that we have," said Tomlin. "I don't want to take anything away from them. Guys like T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt and Bud Dupree and others. They provide the wave that we all ride.

"We've got quality players in our front. Some of the best in the world at what they do."

Watt has been one of the biggest contributors to the high numbers, especially this year when he has an NFL leading and career high 15 sacks.

"T.J. is visiting from another planet, to be quite honest with you," said Tomlin. "He has freakishly unique talent coupled with freakishly unique work habits and mindset, and it produces what you guys witness every week, which in my opinion, is Defensive Player of the Year quality."

Overcoming the challenge: The 2020 season has been like no other, no doubt about it, with the COVID-19 pandemic having an impact on all 32 teams.

Despite the ups and downs teams have had to deal with, which included rescheduling games and star players missing time, the NFL heads into Week 17 of the season without having a single game cancelled.

It hasn't happened without a lot of work, sacrifice and dedication around the league, and Tomlin is appreciative of that, not just from his players, but from all players in the NFL.

"I'm just really appreciative, first and foremost, of our players willingness to adhere and work their tails off to adhere to the changing protocols as it pertains to COVID," said Tomlin. "It has been a challenge. It has been a challenge to give and receive information, to instruct, to prepare and then ultimately to play, but it has been a challenge for all of us, all 32 teams. When I say that, I'm talking about all players league wide.

"For us to navigate this journey the way that we have, it's just really reflective of the organizations and the League as a whole in terms of working extremely hard to keep players safe, to continually educate them and to keep pushing product out week in and week out."

Making his name known: His name is one that many Steelers fans might not have known a month ago, but after a jarring special teams tackle against the Colt on Sunday, they now know Cassius Marsh's name. 

The Steelers signed Marsh on Dec. 9 off the Colts practice squad and activated him on Dec. 14.

Against the Colts he led the team with two special teams tackles and made his presence felt.

While he might not have been familiar to Steelers fans, Tomlin was well aware of him before his ferocious hits.

"I've known quite a bit about him over the years. He has been on several teams," said Tomlin. "He is a guy that's always proven to be willing and capable regardless of the circumstances that he has been in. He has a resume to speak of. He has some rush talent. He's a veteran guy.

"Often times when you are acquiring a guy like him or a guy in his position this time of year, that guy lacks experience. We are excited about the acquisition of him because he does have some game experience and has played in this league. More similar to Avery Williamson than maybe some of the other scenarios that you talk about under those circumstances. And the experience of those two men are added value to our cause this past weekend and I'm sure it will continue to add value to our cause as we push forward."

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