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Mike Tomlin: I thought we did what we needed to do last week

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - One week removed from relieving Matt Canada from his duties as offensive coordinator, the Pittsburgh Steelers went into Cincinnati against the Bengals and won the game 16-10.

Tomlin praised his "bigs," meaning his linemen on both sides of the football, as a key reason for Pittsburgh's success against the Bengals but highlighted some negative aspects of the game, including special teams penalties.

"I saw some things that were encouraging from that perspective," Tomlin said when asked about quarterback Kenny Pickett's performance.

Though the scoreline on paper doesn't look impressive, the Steelers earned 421 yards of total offense, crossing the 400-yard mark for the first time since 2020. Pickett completed 24 of 33 throws for 278 yards, his first game all season with more than 275 yards, breaking a streak of four straight games with 160 or fewer yards.

Did Eddie Faulkner's organizational skills as a coach and now as an offensive coordinator give the Steelers an edge on key third-down plays against the Bengals?

"I'm not ready to paint with a broad brush at this juncture. I thought we did what we needed to do last week. The more we proceed, the more the answers to those types of questions will become more evident."

Pittsburgh's offense was seemingly reborn over 60 minutes of football in Week 12. The team earned 6.2 yards per play, 421 yards of offense, 22 first downs and a season-high 37:17 time of possession.

While it's just one game against the Bengals, who were riding backup quarterback Jake Browning in his first NFL start, all the metrics point to a step in the right direction for a team that still has hopes of winning another AFC North title.


"Got the light on for Minkah (Fitzpatrick) and Montravius Adams" to return this week. Both defensive players will be monitored throughout practice to gauge game-day availability.  

"Let's be honest: T.J. (Watt) is the best defensive player on the planet right now," Tomlin said of Watt's accomplishments while Fitzpatrick has missed time with injury.

Tomlin also noted the veteran defensive presence of players like Patrick Peterson and Damontae Kazee as key cogs who are willing and able to teach younger players like Joey Porter, Jr.


The Steelers now turn their attention to the 2-10 Arizona Cardinals.

"It's been a challenging couple of days," Tomlin said while analyzing Arizona's defense. But they all "play together" to challenge you schematically.

Tomlin specifically praised the safety tandem, including Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, saying, "Their versatility is an asset."

Quarterback Kyler Murray, who had missed a large chunk of the season while rehabbing an ACL injury, is back under center, looking to change fortunes for those in the Red Sea.

Murray has a "plethora of talent on the perimeter," Tomlin said, noting the Cardinals' speedy receivers such as Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Rondale Moore.

"We can't allow James Conner to do what James does. I know and love and got a lot of respect for James," Tomlin said of the former Steelers third-round pick, calling Conner a "legitimate tough guy," who is a challenging runner to bring down.


Former wideout Hines Ward, who played under Tomlin for parts of five seasons, has been selected as a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist for the eighth consecutive year.

When asked about Ward's body of work, Tomlin was quick to offer a noteworthy comparison to Ward.

"Hines is like John Lynch to me. I coached both guys. Stats don't tell their story. Ask the men that played football against them. Hines was a football player first, and a receiver second."

"He is well-deserving of consideration, and I hope it happens for him this time."

The Steelers welcome the Cardinals to Acrisure Stadium this Sunday. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m., and the game can be seen on KDKA-TV.

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