[What We Learned is returning for the 2021 N.F.L. season with a new writer and a new look.]
How dare any of us doubt a team coached by Mike Tomlin?
There are only a few guarantees in today’s N.F.L.: Tom Brady will eat his avocado ice cream and win Super Bowls. Jerry Jones will do something absurd to extend Dallas’s championship drought. And Mike Tomlin will keep his Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl contention.
These Steelers hardly generated a decibel of buzz heading into Week 1. Heck, it was a shock they even wanted to bring back Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback at age 39.
The Buffalo Bills were the team primed to take the next step. Josh Allen was the future of the position itself. And all Tomlin’s Steelers did was travel 200 miles north, strut into Highmark Stadium and remind the entire N.F.L., with one punishing 23-16 punch to Buffalo’s jaw, that they’re not going anywhere.
Which is, of course, what Tomlin’s teams have done for 14 seasons.
Was it pretty? Heck no. But “not pretty” is when Tomlin’s teams are historically most dangerous. Above all, Tomlin’s teams smell blood.
That’s what happened on one ridiculous play call by the Bills at the start of the fourth quarter.
Facing a fourth-and-1 from Pittsburgh’s 41-yard line — with a 10-6 lead — the Bills wisely went for it. After all, this is the same Buffalo team that stuck its own head in the guillotine a year ago by opting for field goals against the Patrick Mahomes-powered Kansas City…