If you thought teams that aren’t playing for anything in Week 17 aren’t operating at full speed, think again.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had already won the AFC North and their seed in the playoffs pretty much set in stone, meaning their Week 17 battle with the Browns offered no real gain for them.
Mike Tomlin decided to rest most of his starters, setting the tone from the start that the Steelers were more concerned about their game next week than they were about the one this week. But while you can take the starters out of the game, you apparently can’t take the fighting spirit out — literally.
Despite not having anything to play for, tensions bubbled over on the Steelers sideline after the team struggled out of the gate against the Browns and fell into a 10-0 hole. Defensive lineman Carlos Davis and Isaiah Buggs got heated with each other on the Steelers sideline and exchanged a little friendly fire.
It wasn’t a full-on brawl, but it looks like a punch was thrown — or at the very least a hard and high shove to the face — which is the last thing you’d expect from a team that supposedly isn’t trying.
This type of stuff doesn’t happen on Mike Tomlin’s watch, full stop. It’s not, however, something that we should read into and try to make into something more than it is. This is the heat of competition and nothing more.
The only notable thing about it is that it’s happening in a seemingly meaningless Week 17 game for the Steelers. It’s a stupid thing to do, but it’s also a sign of the culture Tomlin has instilled in Pittsburgh where there is no such thing as meaningless games to the players on the sideline.