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For the fourth year in a row, Mike Tomlin’s Steelers were poised at 6-2 mid-season. For the second year in a row and third time in four years, Tomlin’s Steelers have lost the 9th game of their 16-game season.  In comparison, Bill Cowher’s Steelers lost the 9th game five times in 15 years. (I had a lot of time on my hands tonight). Numerically speaking, you may ask, what does that mean? I don’t know…i flunked math a couple times in my academic career.

What i do know is that the great vexation over the research into the infamous 9th game of the season is because of the 5-game swoon the Steelers rode after their 6-2 start last year. And like last year’s ninth game (18-12 loss to Cincy) the Steelers didn’t look Steeler-like losing to New England 39-26 Sunday night.

If you listen to the words of Hines Ward, you know that the Steelers too have the 5-game swoon on their minds.

Said Hines, “…We’ve all got to come together as a group and get this thing back going so what happened last year doesn’t doesn’t happen again.”

The first shot across the bow to right the ship was the release of Jeff Reed. Mike Tomlin, as i’ve said before is a bottom line guy. Results get you a seat on the bus and a hat in the game. And when there may be other factors involved, they make the lack of results all the more glaring.

Message sent? Could it be that Coach Mike is letting the players know that nobody is sacred, that performance is the only thing that keeps them from the unemployment line is playing winning football?

Listen to James Farrior

“It was a wake-up call for everybody. No one person is bigger than the team…”

Back in the early 80’s, I remeber how shocked i was to hear Steelers legend Franco Harris was released. Nobody could believe it at first. Then the message settled in. “Nobody is bigger than the team.” If Chuck Noll could let Franco go, who was safe?

Shot across the bow #2…pads on Wednesday…

We were always in pads, so that was no big woo…but if Coach Noll referenced a particular phrase…oooh, it was a “bad moon rising.”

Chuck Noll would view a loss like Monday night along the lines of being out-hit, out-physicaled. And he hated that more than anything. And we knew the consequences. When you heard Coach Noll talk about getting “Back to basics” you knew you were in for a long, brutal week full of fights and dead legs.

Coach Mike had the Steelers in pads on Wednesday…and like Coach Noll, couched in “making corrections” is the knowledge that a certain tempo is expected, and it better carry over into the game.

Here’s hoping the message is received…just an old guy thinking out loud here.