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Rossi: Fiery words won't help Steelers now

| Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, 10:18 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin speaks during a news conference for the AFC divisional game against the Broncos on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Emmanuel Sanders already could hear his former coach calling out the Steelers.

“Mike Tomlin's walking into that room and saying. ‘All right, it's Next Man Up mentality,' ” Sanders said.

“He'll be, like, Markus (Wheaton), Martavis (Bryant) … I don't care who's in there playing, you guys go out and make plays,” Sanders said.

“This is the National Football League, men.”

To hear Sanders tell it, Tomlin will channel his inner preacher and convince grown men that dragons exist.

And can be slain.

Well, only in the Land of Make-Believe can the Steelers — in a way without their two best players — corral Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Nobody knows how far, or how often, Ben Roethlisberger can throw a football with his battered right shoulder.

And as of Friday morning, everybody knew he wouldn't be throwing to Antonio Brown.

He's only the NFL's most explosive receiver, if not its deserving Most Valuable Player.

Words, Emmanuel?

You want us to believe words will help the Steelers score against your Broncos' had-a-week-off, playing-at-home, motivated-and-healthy secondary.

Heard a lot of stories over the years. Never heard the one about words winning a big football game.

Actually, about a year ago, there was a story former linebacker Andy Russell shared about the Steelers' first Super season. Something about some phrase Chuck Noll used a few days before the AFC championship game at Oakland.

“He called us the best team in the NFL,” Russell said. “Everybody was saying it was the Raiders.

“You could hear a pin drop. You didn't know what to do. Chuck just never said things like that. It was shocking, to be honest.

“Then I looked over at Joe (Greene). I had never seen him so intense, and this was Joe Greene. And I knew then the Raiders didn't have a chance. Not. A. Chance.

“I'm convinced we won our first Super Bowl the day Chuck told our team, ‘The best team in football is right here.' ”

Nice stroll down memory lane and all, but …

Tomlin is no Emperor Chaz.

There was only one Mean Joe.

And, with all due respect to the football acumen of Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, the Steelers' other receivers aren't about to “settle down and really find their niche” at Sports Authority Field on Sunday.

Roethlisberger-to-Brown was the Steelers' niche.

That connection happened 16 times for 189 yards and a couple of touchdowns in the Steelers' home win over the Broncos on Dec. 20.

That connection made the Steelers the team supposedly no one wanted to see in the playoffs.

The Broncos wanted to take a shot at those Steelers in the playoffs.

Like dragons, those Steelers don't exist.

Rob Rossi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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