Mike Tomlin’s Non-Losing Season Streak ‘Important’ to Steelers Players
With the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-16, win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium, the 15-year non-losing season streak of head coach Mike Tomlin remains alive. The Steelers, now 6-8, will need to win their three remaining games or go no worse than 2-0-1 to extend the streak to 16.
While that record may seem trivial to some, and goals higher than just finishing above .500 are what the Steelers profess to seek every season, but the players in the locker room don’t want to be the group that breaks that particular streak up.
“It’s real important to us,” Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson told CBS’ A.J. Ross about avoiding Tomlin’s first losing season. “Obviously, you know, he’s been having winning seasons pretty much every year. We want to finish out strong for him and us, as well, because we’re not out of it. At the end of the day, we just got to win our games. Take each week at a time and finish strong. You never know what could happen.”
Johnson played a big part in the Steelers win over the Panthers, recording a season-high 10 receptions on 10 targets for 98 yards (9.8. average). Johnson was especially impressive on third down, moving the chains on five of Pittsburgh’s 12 third down conversions.
“Contribute on (those) third downs, allows us to stay on the field and just put points on the board. Carry that same momentum to the next drive,” Johnson said.
Tomlin’s 15 straight seasons without a losing record is the longest streak by a head coach to begin a career in NFL history. Tomlin surpassed Marty Schottenheimer’s 14-season run (1984-97 with Browns and Chiefs) last season. Only George Halas (16), Bill Belichick (19) and Tom Landry (21) have had more consecutive seasons without a sub-500 record.
Prior to Sunday’s game, the CBS broadcast team asked Tomlin if his 15-year non-losing season streak meant anything to him. And, as expected, Tomlin responded with a simple, “no.” Tomlin has three 8-8 seasons on his resume (2012, 2013 and 2019). The Steelers have never bottomed out under Tomlin. And they’re fighting like hell this year also, winning four of their last six games after starting the season 2-6.
Along with not having a losing season since 2003, the Steelers haven’t finished in last place in their division since 1988, the longest active streak in the league, ahead of the New England Patriots (2000). While the Steelers playoff chances are bleak, history suggests it wouldn’t be wise to count them out just yet.
According to the data analysts at Five Thirty Eight, the Steelers had a 0.1% chance of making the postseason entering Week 15. So, the chances are extremely slim, but the Steelers remain alive at the 13th seed in the AFC, behind the Cleveland Browns (6-8), Las Vegas Raiders (6-8), Jacksonville Jaguars (6-8), New York Jets (7-7), Patriots (7-7) and Miami Dolphins (8-6).