Perhaps it wasn’t shocking that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost a playoff game Sunday night. What was shocking, however, was that they trailed 28-0 after the first quarter.
To the Cleveland Browns. Who won their first playoff game since 1994 and got their first playoff road win since 1969.
Thus, the Steelers, who started the season 11-0, dropped five of their last six games, which seems, well, inexcusable.
“This season started out like, ‘Man, this might be the best Steelers team we’ve ever seen,’” Tiki Barber said on Tiki & Tierney. “Good offense, Ben looks healthy, their defense looks top-notch, they’re 11-0 [and] Mike Tomlin [looked like] Coach of the Year. And then they had this performance where maybe it was age [with] Big Ben, [Maurkice] Pouncey – these guys are a little bit older; maybe it was the lack of a running game that’s been on a thorn in their side all season long. All of those things pointed [to the fact that] this team was not ready to play this postseason game.”
And Mike Tomlin, to be clear, deserves blame for that.
“As much as I can put it on all those things that I just mentioned, this is on Mike Tomlin as well,” Barber said. “You have to teach and preach urgency, and it clearly was not there. Otherwise, how do two vets – Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger – make that egregious of an error to start a football game?”
Indeed, a botch snap led to a Browns touchdown on Pittsburgh’s first play from scrimmage. It was all downhill from there.
“Be safe,” Barber said. “I don’t care how much better you think you are than the team you’re playing. Start smart, man. Start smart; don’t start stupid – and that’s what they did, and it ended up costing them. They were out of the game before the game even started.”