Mike Tomlin’s club has tumbled down the AFC standings after consecutive losses to the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders, and with games against the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints still remaining, there’s a legitimate possibility the 7-5-1 Steelers could be left out come playoff time.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick is not expecting to face a broken, demoralized opponent when his Patriots visit Heinz Field on Sunday, though. He scoffed when asked Wednesday if the Steelers will lack confidence after their three-game skid.
“I think if you guys are around competitive guys, you wouldn’t see that,” Belichick said. “So I don’t really see that. I don’t give that any credibility at all. Competitive people compete. That’s what they do, and certainly, that’s what the Steelers are. So, I’m sure we’ll get their best. I think they’ll get our best. We’ll see what happens.”
Tomlin, who has reached the playoffs in eight of his 11 seasons as Steelers head coach, said he isn’t using the team’s losing streak as a motivational tool.
“They’re all big games, and we’re treating (Sunday’s) as such,” Tomlin said. “But when it’s a 16-week season, you only get so many opportunities to state a case for yourself, so they’re all significant.”
“We don’t even approach it from that perspective,” he said. “All of the games that have been played are in the books. There’s nothing that we can do about it. It’s nothing that we can do about the three that we lost. It’s nothing that we can do about the five or six before that that we won. We are what we are. We have an opportunity this week and that’s our mentality and focus.”
The New England Patriots have won each of their last five meetings with Steelers, including a dramatic 27-24 road victory late last season that effectively clinched the No. 1 seed for Patriots.