Through Mike Tomlin’s seven years as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he has always had a great defense to fall back on that has led him to many postseason games. 2013 was a different story for the Steelers’ head coach. The Steelers faced one problem after the next during the course of the regular season, but found a way to stay in the playoff hunt until the very end of the season — making Tomlin’s coaching in 2013 his best job yet.
Not only did Tomlin and the Steelers lose All-Pro center Maurcice Pouncey, who is also the offensive signal caller, they lost middle linebacker Larry Foote, who is the signal caller for the defensive side of the ball. Both players where lost in Week 1 of the season, giving the Steelers some serious problems early.
The Steelers were forced to sign Fernando Velasko who ended up being a great sign by the black and gold. However, Velasko went down on Thanksgiving night and the Steelers lost their second starting center. Defensively, the Steelers turned to Troy Polamalu to play more of a linebacker role due to the lack of experience on defense.
The Steelers and Tomlin lost the first four games of the regular season before winning their first two. Tomlin has never coached a losing season, and 2013 would be no different. At 5-8, the Steelers finished with three straight wins and remained alive in the AFC. The Steelers were not declared out until the San Diego Chargers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime on Sunday.
In several instances, it looked as if the Steelers never had a dog in the fight. After starting over six different combinations on the offensive line, a defense that looked too old and four starters ending up on injured reserve, the Steelers won six of their last eight games.
Tomlin held his team together and fought until the last whistle. Losing the talent and leadership of guys like James Harrison, Casey Hampton and Mike Wallace was not easy to overcome. However, the Steelers finished a better team because of it. The Steelers look to be one of the best teams heading into next season, but for now, they have a long offseason ahead.