PITTSBURGH (AP) -No, this wasn't a replay of the 2006 Super Bowl. The Pittsburgh Steelers were far too ugly on Sunday to reprise that win over Seattle, which included touchdowns on an option pass and a 75-yard run.
On the other hand, ugly has always worked for the Steelers.
``It was an attrition football game,'' Tomlin said. ``You know we like that.''
They won this game without two defensive starters who each have been to three Pro Bowls: nose tackle Casey Hampton and safety Troy Polamalu. Also missing were starting wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, who was the MVP of that Super Bowl 20 months ago and has been to four Pro Bowls himself.
It looked like their absences might matter during a first quarter that looked more like a soccer game, with nothing close to a goal.
Seattle couldn't cope but Pittsburgh finally did, grinding the Seahawks into the turf of Heinz Field in a 21-0 win.
``I thought we were headed for a zero-zero'' tie, said Mike Holmgren, eschewing the ``nil-nil'' of soccer speak.
By the end, Holmgren couldn't even blame the officials, which is what he did after his team's 21-10 loss in that Super Bowl.
Instead, the complainer (mildly) was Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who was a little skeptical about a couple of holding calls on his team during a third-quarter drive that gave Pittsburgh what amounted to an insurmounable 14-0 lead.
Because of those calls and a sack, Pittsburgh ended up gaining 110 yards on what was officially listed as an 80-yard drive that ate up the first 10 minutes, 17 seconds of the second half.
Tomlin wasn't the Steelers' coach in that Super Bowl, but his philosophy, gleaned in part from the half-dozen assistants who remain, is right out of the Chuck Noll/Bill Cowher playbook.
Until Sunday, Tomlin didn't even know the 75-year-old Noll, whom he met for the first time during a pregame ceremony honoring the Steelers teams of the 1950s. The Steelers were generally a mediocre to bad team during that era, something that didn't change until 1969, when Noll took over and soon led Pittsburgh to four of its five Super Bowl victories.
is season.
That doesn't mean the new coach doesn't have a link to the past.
Tomlin is a protege of Tony Dungy, last year's Super Bowl winner. Whenever anyone asks Dungy who influenced him the most, the first two words out of his mouth are ``Chuck Noll,'' for whom he played in the 1970s and who gave him his first job as an assistant coach.
``I really had never met him,'' said Tomlin, who was 7 years old when Noll won the last of his four titles in 1980. ``But I certainly wanted to introduce myself.''
These Steelers have a tough road if they want to become the first team with six Vince Lombardi trophies. Not because they aren't good enough - they might be - but because they play in the AFC, where they will have to go through New England and Indianapolis to get there.
On the other hand, this is a team built for the playoffs, especially for games played in cold climates.
On Sunday, they had just three active wide receivers after Santonio Holmes injured a hamstring in warmups. No problem. They ran for 163 yards on 41 carries, the perfect grind-it-out formula.
Even without Polamalu and Hampton the defense held Seattle to 144 yards. Time of possession: Pittsburgh 40:45, Seattle 19:15.
``They reminded me of last year, going against Chicago and getting it handed to us,'' Holmgren said.
One more reminder: that Chicago team went to the Super Bowl.
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