1. Onside Kicks
There were many Tomlin sightings at Fanattics, a bar in Squirrel Hill I used to live near, but I never saw him there. Fanattics is about the size of a minivan and the pool table makes it even smaller. I rarely went there anyway.
I work at Chatham University, which is a five-minute walk from Mike Tomlin’s house. Occasionally, on my walk to work, I’ll see him raking the leaves, taking out the garbage, or on a lawn chair in the front yard, sunning himself. Very rarely, he’ll lean against the bars of his house’s wrought-iron fence and solicit football-related advice from passersby. On one such occasion, I told him, “You know those weird trick plays that worked really well the last time we won the Super Bowl? Well, do more of those. Especially the unnecessary onside kicks. Even if they don’t work, keep doing them.” This was meant as a joke. I would like to apologize to the entire Steelers Nation: I had no idea he’d actually follow my advice.
To his credit, Tomlin did not follow the other advice I gave him. This would have been mid-season, when Polamalu was injured and we were in the midst of an epic losing streak. “Don’t get me wrong, I like Tyrone Carter. But you know, the defense just plays better when Polamalu is in,” I told him.
“He can only run in a straight line,” Tomlin said, shaking his head.
“Polamalu might actually be scarier if he’s running straight at you. If just his presence energizes the defense that much, maybe that’s all you need. Keeping him out there scares people. He’d be like a scarecrow. Should work against the Ravens. Ha!”
“Ha!” Tomlin said. “I have to go now. Jersey Shore is on.” I wished him luck with the losing streak situation.
2. Mike Wallace
I’ve been impressed all season by Mike Wallace’s speed. Also, if there’s a team award for most ridiculous haircut, he might win it this year with that faux-hawk. Also, he gives his postgame interviews wearing a backpack. What’s up with that?
3. Unleash Hell
We may not have “unleashed hell” against the Ravens the first time, but everyone stepped up and we held our own against the Ravens’ murderous defense. We matched Flacco score-for-score with our third-string quarterback. Tomlin may not have unleashed all nine circles of hell, but I’ll give him the first. He could have been more specific: “We’ll unleash hell here in December. By which, I mean the first circle, teol, the limbo where reside the virtuous and unbaptized pagans.” That qualification would have bought him a lot with his critics, not to mention the legions of medievalists who are also Steelers fans.