PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers fans who make a sport of ripping Mike Tomlin for their team's woes should at least consider this list of coaches:
Mike Ditka, Tony Dungy, Joe Gibbs, John Madden, Mike McCarthy, George Seifert, Don Shula.
Those are the only coaches in NFL history to win 100 games in their first 10 seasons as a head coach. Mike Tomlin has four games to go from 99 to 100, starting with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Since Tomlin joined the franchise in 2007, the Steelers' 99-57 regular-season record is the third best league wide, behind the New England Patriots' 122-34 record and the Green Bay Packers' 102-53-1 clip.
McCarthy's and Tomlin's combined 13-11 record in 2016 accentuates the difficulties of maintaining that success. Both coaches have faced challenges, particularly on defense. Tomlin's work over the Steelers' four-game losing streak midseason was not his best.
But the coaches on that list averaged 10 wins per year because of the ability to minimize damage. Lulls don't mushroom into losing seasons. Tomlin has mastered that part of coaching, flipping the field on the Steelers' season with a three-game winning streak heading into Buffalo.
Perhaps the infinite success experienced by Pittsburgh's fan base over the past four-plus decades breeds an insatiable appetite for wins that no coach can adequately feed.
But the scope of Tomlin's performance in Pittsburgh since 2007 is appreciated league wide, and he's showing why in December, when he's 9-1 in his past three seasons.