Where's the love for Mike Tomlin?

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Where's the love for Mike Tomlin?

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
DALLAS - We've debated all week what three Super Bowl wins before the age of 30 means to the legacy of Ben Roethlisberger. Have you noticed nobody is wondering what two Super Bowl wins before 40 would do for the legacy of Mike Tomlin? Deifying Tomlin, it appears,has not yet made it to the top of the media to-do list.
And that's too bad because people are absolutely missing the boat on what he's doing at the age of 38. In four seasons, Tomlin is 43-21 in the regular season, 5-1 in the playoffs. Since a Wild Card round loss to the Jaguars in 2007, Tomlin's coached the Steelers to five straight playoff wins. He's got a chance tomake it six on Sunday. If hedoes, he'llnot only be theyoungest coach to win a Super Bowl -- which he did in 2008, at 36 -- he'll be the youngest to win two. Chuck Noll and Don Shula both won their second Super Bowls at 44. In 2010, Tomlin's Steelers started 3-1 without Ben Roethlisberger, who was suspended for acting like an idiot. And they started that way despite having traded away their best wideout, Santonio Holmes. The Steelers finished 12-4. Yet when the Associated Press announced its NFL Coach of the Year award on Wednesday, Tomlin didn't get a single vote. Andy Reid, Mike Smith, Steve Spagnuolo and Lovie Smith all got at least one vote. None for Tomlin. It's not hard to figure why Tomlin doesn't get the credit his resume suggests he deserves. He was an out-of-nowhere candidate who'd never been a head coach at any level and was defensive coordinator for a single season in Minnesota (2006) before the Steelers hired him to succeed Bill Cowher. In doing so, they skipped past two beloved Steelers assistants, Russ Grimm and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. The perception has always been that Tomlin was a "Rooney Rule" candidate, a beneficiary of the rule named for Steelers owner Dan Rooney that says each team must interview one minority candidate for every head coaching position. So the notion is out there thatTomlingot moved to the head of the line. But Rooney himself slapped that notion down two years ago. In February of 2009, Rooneytold Newsday, "Mike Tomlin was not part of the Rooney Rule. We had already interviewed Ron Rivera (then the Bears' defensive coordinator), and so that fulfilled the obligation. We went on, had heard about Mike, called him in and talked to him. He was very impressive."Aside from Whisenhunt and Grimm leaving for Arizona, Tomlin kept the Steelers staff pretty much intact when he took over after Cowher's Steelers went 8-8 a season after a Super Bowl win in 2005. That move has ensured that the love and credit for the Steelers defensive success goes to the venerable Hall of Famer, Dick LeBeau. In the media workroom at the Super Bowl, you can find 10-foot tables stacked deep in quote sheets. Every question asked and answered during media access periods is recorded. Questions about LeBeau and his defense dwarfed the number of questions posed about Tomlin. It's funny, when it comes to the Steelers, the assistants and the owners get all the reverence. The head coach and the GM (his name is Kevin Colbert, by the way)? They get very little mention. Asked this week about working with the understated Colbert, Tomlin said, "Kevin is very easy to work with. He and I share the same attitude in that we don't care who gets the credit. We simply want to win."Winning seems a Steelers birthright, regardless of who's in charge - Noll, Cowher or Tomlin. But Tomlin did have to seize this Steelers team in fundamental ways to show a new sheriff was in town. "When Coach Tomlin first got to the Steelers, it was still a lot of Coach Cowher's guys," explained wide receiver Hines Ward. "He was very militant. He wanted to practice two-a-days, full pads, all day long. By the time we got to the playoffs to play Jacksonville, we were a beat-up team. They don't give you a book to show you how to be a head coach."Maybe not, but Tomlin - a second-team All Yankee Conference tight end by the time he graduated William & Mary in 1995 - is a quick study. Because he studies. And creates. He may be one of the most passionate and convincing motivators in the NFL. Bluntly funny in a very Parcellian way. Smart enough to keep it simple. This week, he talked about "under-the-radar" players helping the Steelers. "If you have a helmet on, you're a guy who is capable of making deciding plays," Tomlin boomed. "We don't grade on a curve. If I give any of these guys a helmet on Sunday, I expect them to potentially put themselves in position to be the reason they win. I don't think there is a man in our locker room who doesn't embrace that.""He knows how to let us motivate ourselves and be professionals," said Roethlisberger. "Even if it's just little notes. Before(Super Bowl 43), he wrote on a little card:'Terry Bradshaw - 4; Joe Montana - 4' and helisted the Super Bowls and asked,'Where do you want to fit in this group?' "Never mind where Roethlisberger fits. Shouldn't we start asking where Tomlin fits?
Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Reaction to weekend protests

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Reaction to weekend protests

0:41 - Tom Giles, Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss the National Anthem protests across the NFL over the weekend and the reactions to players kneeling.

10:07 - Michael Hurley joins the BST crew to talk about the Patriots' thrilling last-minute victory over the Texans and how concerning the Patriots' issues on defense are.

18:13 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving and LeBron James' comments about one another during Media Day, including LeBron referring to Kyrie as "The Kid" instead of his name.

22:30 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Mookie Betts and Eduardo Nunez both leaving with injuries during the Red Sox's Monday night loss to the Blue Jays, and other concerns surrounding the team heading into the postseason.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Prescott, Cowboys pull away to beat Cardinals, 28-17

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Prescott, Cowboys pull away to beat Cardinals, 28-17

GLENDALE, Ariz. , Dak Prescott kneeled with his teammates and team owner before the game, flipped head over heels for a touchdown in the first half and capped his night with a 37-yard TD pass that proved to be the game winner.

The Dallas Cowboys erased last week's ugly memory on Monday night, with their young quarterback leading the way.

"He just kept battling," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.

"He kept making good decisions. Obviously he made some good plays, big-time throws, but as much as anything else he's got an amazing spirit and our players follow him."

The Cowboys (2-1), bouncing back from a 42-17 pummeling in Denver, began the game kneeling at midfield with owner Jerry Jones in a show of unity that followed widespread protests across the NFL of critical comments by President Donald Trump over the weekend.

After they kneeled, they stood and walked to the sideline and stood for the anthem.

"We planned and it was executed that we would go out and kneel," Jones said, "and basically make the statement regarding the need for unity and the need for equality."

Prescott, 13 of 18 for 183 yards, broke a 14-14 tie with a 37-yard scoring pass to Brice Butler with 11:52 to play.

"I immediately scrambled and when I scrambled Brice took the right angle and the right initiative going to the back of the end zone," Prescott said.

Arizona, with a spectacular catch by Larry Fitzgerald for 24 yards on a third-and-18 play, moved downfield but the drive stalled. Phil Dawson's 37-yard field goal cut the lead to 21-17 with 6:35 left.

Ezekiel Elliott, who gained 8 yards on nine carries against Denver and drew criticism for not hustling after a couple of late interceptions, was bottled up much of the game, but still gained 80 yards on 22 attempts, 30 on one play. He ran 8 yards for the final Cowboys touchdown.

The Cardinals (1-2), in their home opener, got a big game from Fitzgerald, who caught 13 passes for 149 yards, in the process moving ahead of Marvin Harrison into eighth in career receiving yards. The 13 receptions tied a career high.

"That's Fitz. It's Monday night," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "He's a money player. It was a great performance by him. It's a shame we couldn't play better around him."

Carson Palmer had a big first half, completed 15 of 18 for 145 yards and finished 29 of 48 for 325 yards and two scores. He was sacked six times, a career-high three by DeMarcus Lawrence.

The Cardinals dominated the first half statistically, but were deadlocked with the Cowboys at 7-7. Arizona had a 152-57 advantage in yards and dominated time of possession 19:34 to 9:41.

Arizona took the opening kickoff and went 82 yards in eight plays. Palmer was 5-for-5 on the drive, capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Brown.

Before Dallas even had a first down, Arizona mounted a nearly nine-minute drive but a touchdown pass to Brown was negated by a holding penalty and Phil Dawson's 36-yard field goal try was wide right. It was the third mid-range miss for the 41-year-old kicker this season.

And the miss left the door open for the Cowboys to get back in it.

Prescott scored on a 10-yard run, flipping head-first over the goal line to tie it at 7-7 with 3:33 left in the half.

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