Watching the celebration on Sun. night after winning the AFCC, I was thinking about this Steeler team vs. other Steeler champions. First of all, I was glad that Rod Woodson was presenting the trophy instead of Greg Lloyd, since my daughter was watching. Second, I noticed the demeanor of this team vs. the 2005 team vs. the 95 team vs. the 1978/79 teams.
Watching "America's Game" on the '78/'79 Steelers, I noticed how low-key those teams were in their celebrations, and I thought, "Uh, you guys DID WIN, you know!" But then, the former players talked about how business-like those teams were, how they expected to win, how they went about their work with little fanfare and never had an excess of emotion. They didn't seek the spotlight or look for tons of media attention. They were just there to do work.
IMO, this team seems more business-like, more 70s Steelers than the 95 or 05 teams did.
It seems that our last two SB teams thrived more on emotion, on highs and lows, than this team does. They rallied around guys like Lloyd or Porter or Bettis, someone or something that could get them "up" for a game. This team doesn't seem to depend on that.
If you asked, "Who is the unequivocal leader on the Steeler defense?," I'm not sure I could give you an answer. There doesn't seem to be a big talker/yapper like JP or Ray-Ray. Maybe Troy, maybe JH, but I'd probably go with James Farrior, and he seems pretty soft-spoken and cerebral. They seem to function as one cohesive unit, and they all expect the other parts of the machine to run as they should.
The offense is a little more of a mystery. Who is the leader--Ben? Hines? Hard to say. They certainly don't seem to click the way the defense does; however, they also don't yell and scream and lose it on each other. With their performance this season, one would expect a few shouting matches on the sidelines, but it doesn't seem to happen. I take the final drive vs. the Ravens in Dec. as the prime example. In spite of how they had played, they just "knew" that Ben was going to take them 92 yards for the win.
Maybe I'm reading way too much into this, but it seems that Tomlin has clearly put his stamp on this group. I'm glad that he's more animated on the sidelines this season, but I still like the fact that he's never outrageously high or ridiculously low. He seems to have a great demeanor with the players, but also maintains a separation about who he is and what his role is. The biggest thing is that the players seem to trust him, and you just can't replace that kind of loyalty.
I also like the way that he seems to be approaching this game "business as usual." No extra days off, no special schedules...just back to work, as if we're playing next Sunday. I've heard many guys say on the alleged World-Wide Leader that you should try to keep Super Bowl week as "normal as possible." Cowher made changes in the schedule both times that they went to the Super Bowl, and we looked "off" in both games. I think Tomlin will be a steady influence on this team leading up to Feb. 1.
All in all, I think this is one of the strongest teams that we've seen in many years, and I have become a huge fan of the way they approach the game. Hopefully, this approach will serve them well, right through about 10 pm on Sunday night, Feb. 1.