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Winter Wonderland: Steelers Overcome Raiders, Conditions in Christmas Eve Win



Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and RB Najee Harris

PITTSBURGH — The December air was crisp, historically so. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t even feel a chill, and neither did his team.

“I don’t know that any of us even noticed the temperature tonight,” Tomlin said after coaching his team in the coldest Steelers game ever played at Acrisure Stadium. “It was just one of those games. You never really notice it unless you’re winning definitively or you’re getting smashed. It was a close game and I kind of forgot about the weather.”

As the conductor of a march that gave the Steelers the game’s go-ahead score, rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett praised the team’s supporting cast, which ensured the players were comfortable — or as comfortable as one could possibly be in such biting cold temperatures.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Pickett said. “I think our support staff, shout out to them. Doing the great job. The jackets were on deck. The boys had some hand warmers, so they were hooking it up on the sideline. I appreciate the staff and the trainers. They got us ready to go.”

In the spirit of giving after the exciting victory, Steelers center Mason Cole commended his signal-caller.

“It wasn’t ideal weather tonight to be coming back late in the game in a two-minute drill,” Cole said. “But, he got it done, man.”

With it coming as a product of the area and the time of year, cornerback Arthur Maulet embraced the frigid weather. It surely didn’t affect his hands, as he snatched one of the secondary’s three interceptions on the night. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cameron Sutton brought down the others.

“We live in Pittsburgh, baby,” Maulet said. “We love it here. December football.”

The offense may not have had the same sentiment early on, but the freezing air couldn’t hold the attack down, surely not when it mattered the most.

“I’d probably say the conditions, really for both teams,” wideout George Pickens said. “The weather didn’t deter us.”

Najee Harris, who finished the contest with 53 rushing yards on 16 carries, took it one further. The frosty nature of the night wasn’t even uttered, he said.

“Nobody really even said anything like, ‘Man, it’s cold,'” Harris said. “It was cold, but nobody ever said it. It wasn’t anything we kept bringing up or anything. It was fine, because we already knew what it was going to be. So, it wasn’t really an issue.”

Or maybe it was a non-factor because of the desensitization of touch.

“Um, I don’t know if I felt it,” defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said. “I might just be numb right now, but when I get home, I’ll probably feel it.”

For those sitting in the stands, on plastic seats that one would assume were far from warm, braving the frost takes on an entirely new meaning.

“It means everything, man,” Maulet said. “Steeler Nation backs us up so much. It’s freezing cold out there … and they’re out there screaming their butts off supporting us.”