Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, Mike Tomlin sat down on The Pivot Podcast with Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder, and Fred Taylor and spoke about several topics. One of those being the feelings and emotions going through Tomlin’s first and so far, only Super Bowl Championship, Super Bowl XLIII.
Clark asked Tomlin:
“We [2008 Steelers Defense] get to the Super Bowl for three quarters, we are really good. In the fourth quarter, Larry Fitzgerald loses his mind. What are you thinking when Ben [Roethlisberger] and Santonio [Holmes] get the ball back for that drive?”
Tomlin responded by letting everyone know he felt confident in Roethlisberger and the offense in crunch time:
“I felt good about it until we got the holding penalty. Our ability to navigate a two minute drill, Ben’s ability to navigate, that is the very best thing that he does.” Tomlin emphasized. “Like, when it’s thick, he’s most normal when he’s up against it. Come on, that was the very best thing that he did, and that was one of the very best things that we collectively did. But we got a holding penalty within that drive that made it first and 20. That’s when I got tight, because first and 20 in the two minutes is tough. But just being in that position, I can’t tell you that I was tight. I tell you, man, I needed a security blanket that day.”
Tomlin continued to give his brother credit for being the one that could be there to help him when he was feeling “tight.”
“I had my brother down there on that sideline. My brother four years older than me, right? And like, certain things you need when stuff really gets thick. I wanted my brother on the sideline in the Super Bowl, you know what I mean? I just needed that familiar, that home. That’s what I think about when… Larry Fitzgerald caught that ball man, and went down the middle of the field on us, right? I was paralyzed for a split second like everybody else, okay?”
“But my big brother walked by me, man. He hit me on my hip, and that woke me up. Yeah. He didn’t say nothing because he was scared to death. Like, he’s not in professional coaching, okay? He’s like a fan that you gave accord to and put him down there on the sideline. He was like, wow. I wasn’t looking for anything substantial from him, but his presence, because that’s my big bro, my big bro.”
Clark talks about how that 2008 Steelers defense felt like they were on the cusp of losing their legendary status after Fitzgerald gutted them on that lead-changing drive and Tomlin continued the story:
“That’s the thing. We go down the field, Tone [Holmes] does his thing. Ben dropped the ball in the corner end zone. Tone does his thing. They still shell shocked! I’m like, ‘Hey, bro, we back up. I’m like, Get the stop. We win the game. We’re a legendary defense.’ Because their whole thing was, ‘Oh, gosh, we’re no longer legendary,’ Tomlin said in a mockingly tone. I’m looking at them all, and that’s what it is. They’re like, ‘we’re not legendary.’ I was like, ‘bro, look, we back up. Get this stop.'”
“You know the funny thing, I go to LaMarr Woodley. LaMarr Woodley is the youngest member of the core group, and so at that moment, he kind of, was probably there better than everybody else. You know how the longer you in something, the more you got invested. He was probably too young and inexperienced to be really messed up. I’m like, ‘Hey, Wood, win this game, bro, win this game.’ The young arrogance in Wood said, ‘Yeah. Got you, coach.'”
On why he went to Woodley instead of one of his veteran defense playmakers in that moment:
“The youngest guy was in the best condition to absorb what I was saying straight up. He was too young to understand, probably the gravity of where we were, straight up. And he went out and ended the game.”
Check out the entire episode below!