PITTSBURGH (AP) — Two weeks in and Mike Tomlin’s problems are of the NFL first-world variety.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are unbeaten at 2-0 despite not lighting up scoreboards the way they anticipated, managing just four offensive touchdowns through eight quarters.
The defense has been solid, though it has forced just one turnover and is still searching for its first interception.
The injury list is growing — right tackle Marcus Gilbert is dealing with a right hamstring issue and T.J. Watt’s groin kept him out of the majority of Sunday’s win over Minnesota — but manageable.
There are worse ways to start a season of Super Bowl expectations.
“We will still be a team in development like all teams are and we just simply acknowledge it,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “We better find ways to win along the way.”
So far Pittsburgh has, though Tomlin is hardly getting ahead of himself even with a trip to struggling Chicago (0-2) this Sunday.
The Steelers have won in Chicago just once in franchise history and previous time they faced Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, he put together a fourth-quarter rally to lead Tampa Bay to a stunning upset at Heinz Field in 2014.
“He has physical traits that you can’t coach,” Tomlin said. “His stature allows for great field vision. He can make any throw on the field. He is a great anticipator. You see it when you watch his tape.”
Even if the tape hasn’t been too kind to Glennon this season. He’s been unable to generate much downfield thanks in part to a rash of injuries at wide receiver and the Bears have mustered all of 24 points through two weeks. The Steelers have allowed just 27 and have yet to trail at any point. It’s early, but it’s promising.
The defense’s steadiness has made the offense’s semi-sluggish start a non-issue.
Running back Le’Veon Bell is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and has just 138 total yards. He averaged an NFL-high 156 yards from scrimmage last season.
Bell said on Sunday he’s due for a breakout game and Tomlin isn’t concerned about Bell’s contract situation — he’s playing on a one-year franchise tender — clouding Bell’s decision-making.
“We’re just going to continue to do what we’ve been doing and know that if we do and stay committed, that the splash plays are going to come,” Tomlin said. “I know that he shares that mentality. I’m not overly concerned about him pressing and trying to do too much to create.”
The offense has yet to turn the ball over and the defense has picked up seven sacks, developments that have made other issues — such as 21 penalties over two games — tolerable.
“I don’t know if (Ben Roethlisberger) threw an interception in (training camp),” Tomlin said. “He’s just done a great job of taking care of the ball. And oftentimes, particularly in the early stages of the season, that’s just enough to maybe get you out of a stadium (with a win).”
NOTES: Tomlin said Watt, Gilbert, defensive end Stephon Tuitt (left biceps), tight end Vance McDonald (back) and safety J.J. Wilcox (concussion) all have a chance to play in Chicago. … Tomlin said the downturn in linebacker James Harrison’s playing time (Harrison didn’t play a snap against Minnesota) had more to do with the development of Anthony Chickillo than any sort of decline in Harrison’s play.