The Pittsburgh Steelers clearly overlooked the Jacksonville Jaguars in their AFC divisional-round game — and Le’Veon Bell apparently led the charge.
The Steelers running back posted a pair of tweets ahead of his team’s 45-42 loss to the Jaguars that indicated he thought beating Jacksonville was a foregone conclusion. Furthermore, Bell showed up late to the Steelers’ walkthrough the day before the game and arrived at Heinz Field later than head coach Mike Tomlin wanted on the day of the game, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette reported Friday.
“Tomlin wants players and coaches to report to the locker room two hours before kickoff for games,” Bouchette wrote. “That was continually ignored by both players and a coach or two.
“Not only did Bell arrive much later than that for the playoff game against Jacksonville (as well as one coach), he missed practically the entire Saturday walkthrough the day before, showing up about five minutes before practice ended.”
Well, that was smart. After all, why would anyone put in extra preparation for an NFL playoff game?
Sure, Bell rushed for 67 yards and one touchdown plus caught nine balls for 88 yards and another TD, but blowing off team deadlines isn’t something you want out of your veteran “leaders.”
Bouchette added: “Tomlin never lost the locker room, he had it under control and his players respect him.”
Steelers players clearly love their coach, and in that respect it’s probably correct to say he didn’t lose the locker room. But given Bell’s actions, as well as the loud-mouthed antics of some other Steelers players (like Mike Mitchell, for example), it’s fair to question whether Tomlin — whose seat reportedly is heating up — had his team mentally prepared for the task at hand.