He produced the game of his dreams when the Steelers needed it, so why did Mike Tomczak keep dwelling on his only serious mistake? Well, maybe because it could have allowed Baltimore to get back into the game, undoing all his marvelous work. "I got a little greedy on that interception," Tomczak said after the Steelers' 31-17 win over the Ravens. The pick in question, by Ravens safety Vashone Adams at Baltimore's 10-yard line with 10:10 remaining and Pittsburgh leading by two touchdowns, came on an ill-advised heave. Said Tomczak, ruefully, "I'm not a perfect quarterback...yet."
Yet. Was that endearing or what? At the age of 33 and starting his 12th season in the league, Tomczak still dreams of perfection. He flirted with it in the first half on Sunday. As the Steelers were rolling to a 28-17 lead, Tomczak connected on 12 of 13 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
So Tomczak is the Steelers quarterback of the moment, which is a nice place for a career backup who has played behind Jim McMahon in Chicago, Bernie Kosar in Cleveland and Neil O'Donnell in Pittsburgh. Hey, for a guy who wasn't even drafted when he came out of Ohio State in 1985, Tomczak has put together a long and respectable career for himself.
Yet Tomczak was livid at the end of the preseason when Steelers coach Bill Cowher told him that he had chosen Jim Miller as the starter to replace O'Donnell, who had jumped to the Jets. The third candidate for the job was the multi-talented Kordell (Slash) Stewart. "I was angered and disappointed, definitely," Tomczak said. "I felt I was the guy to lead this team." In a newspaper poll, the fans agreed.
After the Steelers' unsettling 24-9 opening-game loss to the Jaguars, Cowher dumped Miller in favor of Tomczak. The sudden switch was questioned. Now it looks inspired.