You don’t just go down to Giant Eagle and get yourself a pack of toughness off the shelf. Toughness is something you build and you foster until it becomes part of who you are. With their win over Cincinnati in the AFC Wild-Card Game, the Pittsburgh Steelers found a certain toughness that I don’t think they had previously.
This isn’t to suggest the Steelers weren’t tough – there are many tough guys on this team – but as a collective unit, this was there coming out party.
The toughness from this team was exhibited in many ways. From the sterling performance of Ryan Shazier to the late return of Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers brought back memories of teams of old. Even when the team found itself behind with little hope of victory they found a way.
Heck, even Hall of Fame Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak put his toughness to the test when he was yanking Bengals’ safety Reggie Nelson away from the bench area in the first half. Munchak has clearly made his imprint on the offensive line much in the same way Joey Porter has made his toughness known on the entire defense.
Another sign of the recent “team toughness” upgrade was evident in all-pro guard David DeCastro who had finally had enough of Vontaze Burfict. DeCastro plowed Burfict back ten yards before finally pancaking him which left no doubt to Burfict that he wasn’t going away anytime soon. (Update: DeCastro told 93.7 The Fan that Burfict spit on him during the game.)
The Steelers proved on Saturday night that you can play tough and play smart unlike the team in orange who put selfishness ahead of anything else. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of Steelers who are guilty of ‘trying to be tough’ at times and those can often end in penalties but overall this team, both offensively and defensively has found a toughness that it had otherwise been lacking a bit.