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Mike Tomlin: Undefeated Steelers looked 'really junior varsity' despite win

When asked what he attributed his team's myriad miscues on Wednesday to, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was short, simple and emphatic with his reply.

"Us, sucking," the veteran coach stated.

In the aftermath of a ridiculously long Week 12, Tomlin's Steelers collected an important 19-14 win over AFC North-archrival Baltimore. Important, but hardly impressive. The Steelers emerged victorious and still undefeated, 11-0 for the first time in the decorated franchise's chronicle. But they hardly looked like such a team.

"It was really junior varsity, to be quite honest with you," Tomlin said. "It was in all three phases. We couldn't run the ball effectively when we needed to. We dropped too many significant passes, very catchable, makeable passes. We didn't make significant plays in the special teams game. Our kickoff coverage unit wasn't good enough. We turned the ball over. We gave up big plays in critical moments on defense. Can't have it."

Though the Ravens were ravaged by missing talent due to the coronavirus, the Steelers offense produced a season-low in points scored. Ben Roethlisberger and the offense mustered just one touchdown and 334 yards. Dropped passes were a huge problem. They had a pair of turnovers. And just never got going.

For much of the contest, the Steelers' impactful defense dominated the Ravens' short-handed offense, but a late Trace McSorley 70-yard touchdown pass suddenly sprung Baltimore back into the game.

"Unacceptable," said Tomlin of the play and much else.

With the win also came the end of a surreal journey to get to Wednesday. A COVID-19 outbreak for the Ravens led to three postponements of the game, which was initially the final contest in a Thanksgiving tripleheader. From Thursday to Sunday to Tuesday to Wednesday -- finally. But with all the delays and uncertainty, there was no solace found for Tomlin, who refused to let the absurdity of what came ahead of the game be an excuse.

"We make no excuses," he said. "We seek no comfort. We didn't play well, coach well tonight."

Known for often providing elongated answers at his pressers, Tomlin was most often short and ardent. This one clearly left a horrible taste. Just how horrible?

"I don't know," he said. "I know this one's pretty frustrating."

There are no losses as of now for the Steelers, but concerns are abundant. However, Tomlin believes what needs fixing isn't all that difficult to figure.

"We don't have to reinvent the wheel," he said. "It's not some transformational thing that needs to transpire. We got to coach better and play better when we get inside the bowl. I expect our group to do that Monday night, Monday evening, whenever it is that we play."

And so the Steelers move forward to a Monday matchup with Washington in another rescheduled game with a perfect record and an unsatisfying showing.

"We're fortunate tonight. It's good to proceed with the victory. I acknowledge that," Tomlin said. "But not a lot happened tonight to be proud of or to be excited about other than that."

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