Raj Mehta/USA Today Sports

Mike Tomlin: Steelers were not looking ahead to Patriots, 'simply performing our professional duties'

Ryan Hannable
December 13, 2017 - 1:33 pm

FOXBORO -- Speaking on a conference call Wednesday, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin scoffed at the idea that his team was looking ahead to the Patriots game a few weeks ago.

This started with Tomlin appearing on Sunday Night Football two weeks ago and saying the Patriots-Steelers game this week might not be the only time they meet this year, and there would be fireworks.

"I'm going to embrace the elephant in the room. [The game is] going to be fireworks," Tomlin said at the time. "And it's probably going to be Part 1. That's going to be a big game. But probably, if we're both doing what we're supposed to, the second one is really going to be a big game. Then what happens in the first is going to set up the second one, which is going to determine the location of the second one."

On Wednesday, Tomlin said the media were the ones saying they were looking ahead and they were performing "professional duties" answering questions from media.

“I don’t know if any of us were looking ahead, to be quite honest with you," he said on the conference call. "That was the way it was described by [the media]. We were simply answering questions. We were doing our professional due diligence. When we do interviews and people ask us about potential big games down the road, we’re going to politely answer questions and do so honestly. That’s not us down the road, that is us simply performing our professional duties.”

It has always been Tomlin's style over the years not to necessarily have the one game at a time approach.

“You know, because we all talk goals at the outset of these seasons and we understand what those goals are," he said. "There’s obvious things that occur along the way if you are moving in the right direction in terms of some of those goals. If you set out on the season to be world champs, obviously you’re going to play in significant games along the way. The road gets increasingly narrower. That is part of being [on] the pursuit of a world championship play. It’s ridiculous to goal set and not to acknowledge natural things that occur along the way if you are committed to the pursuit of your goals.”

The winner of Sunday's game in all likelihood will be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.