But he couldn’t resist breaking a smile when Brian Batko of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sports asked him about the sideline fight between rookie nose tackle Carlos Davis and second-year defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs.
“We got some gamecocks and every now and then they fight a little bit. But all in the right spirit. We are trying to win football games, and they are trying to win football games,” said Tomlin.
“That’s just a part of it,” he added. “We don’t apologize for that. I hate that it became public, but it happens sometimes when you got emotional men fighting their tails off and fighting their tails off to win.”
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) January 3, 2021
For what it’s worth, Buggs and Davis were barely visible on the scoresheet, with one assisted tackle each.
Moreover, the Steelers defense allowed Browns running back Nick Chubb to rush for 108 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries, an average of 7.7 yards per rush. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was Cleveland’s second leading rusher with six carries for 44 yards (7.3 yards per rush). Running back Kareem Hunt added 37 yards and wide receiver Jarvis Landry had three yards for a total of 192.
That’s almost as much yardage as Mayfield produced through the air (196 yards), as he was under pressure from Pittsburgh’s pass rush for most of the day. The Steelers finished with four sacks—one each from Alex Highsmith, Stephon Tuitt, Jay Elliott and Chris Wormley—giving the team 56 on the season, which ties the franchise’s single-season record.
Steelers Rookie WR Chase Claypool Sets 3 Franchise Records
During his postgame press conference, Mike Tomlin was also asked about another of his young players, that being rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool.
“It was our intention to feature him a little bit today,” said Tomlin. “We wanted him to have that type of rhythm and that type of confidence in his playmaking ability going into January ball. So we were able to check that box.”
On Sunday, Claypool set the Steelers rookie record for most receptions with 62. The old record was held by former first-round draft pick Troy Edwards, who had 61 receptions in 1999.
He also eclipsed the franchise rookie records for most receiving touchdowns and most total touchdowns, the former of which was held by wide receiver Louis Lipps (8) and the latter held jointly by Lipps and Franco Harris (10). But Claypool’s 28-yard touchdown reception gave him nine touchdown catches and 11 total touchdowns on the season.
Next Up: Browns at Steelers
As for the aforementioned “January ball,” that begins in earnest next weekend when the Steelers (No. 3 seed) host the Cleveland Browns (No. 6 seed).
In mid-October, the Steelers clobbered the Browns at Heinz Field by a score of 38-7. Cleveland has lost 17 consecutive games at Heinz Field and is 1-19 all-time at the facility. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a career record of 24-2-1 vs. the Browns, including 13-0 at home.