‘We’re winning this game, Hines is in the Hall of Fame right now’: Mike Tomlin reflects on how serious the legacy is after Super Bowl XLV loss

The Pittsburgh Steelers went 15-1 in 2004 and reached the conference finals. They won the Super Bowl the following year in 2005 and then won again in 2008. Although there were a few down years in between, with non-playoff seasons in 2006 and 2009, they were back in the big game in 2010. And they lost, against the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers.

And it was more than just a loss, for the Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin. It was also more than just a Super Bowl loss. For a team with this recent resume, with the players on this list, it was a pivotal point going the wrong way, as Tomlin reflected during his appearance on The Pivot podcast with Ryan Clark, Fred Taylor and Channing Crowder.

“When I sat here in this room, and the gravity of this [hit], it was tough,” he said, speaking from home. “When everything is moving and things of that nature, especially when you’re leading, I can hide behind taking care of others. When I got home, when I got here, man, crazy”.

“You realize what is lost. It’s more than a game, man. We are talking about lifetime scholarships for people. We are talking about golden jackets. We talk about a lot, ”he continued. “We win this game, Hines [Ward] is in the Hall of Fame right now, for example. What he does in terms of rounding up the resumes of the men in this collective, man…”.

Hines Ward retired after the 2011 season after a 14-year playing career, all with the Steelers, with 1,000 receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. He had 88 other career playoff receptions for 1,181 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had 14 Super Bowl receptions for 244 yards and two touchdowns.

And if he had had a third Super Bowl ring, along with his Super Bowl MVP trophy, then indeed that might have been the tipping point that pushed his resume from the wrong side of the cusp to the side right. It’s hard to be a key player in three Super Bowl winners and not be in the Hall of Fame.

Two and three championships are often considered the difference between a winner and a dynasty. The Steelers failed to establish themselves as a dynasty of greats thanks to Rodgers and Jordy Nelson and, yes, even Rashard Mendenhall.

Things got complicated for the Steelers after that loss. They went 12-4 the following season, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Then they had two 8-8s in which they didn’t even make it. in fact, they’ve only won three postseason games since that Super Bowl loss, which weighs even more heavily on the ramifications of what it meant for those on that team and for the organization.

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