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Tomlin among the elite NFL coaches

Marcus Henry | 4/12/2011, 4:46 p.m.

He goes about his business with a smoothness that makes you wonder if he is even an NFL coach. Pittsburgh Steelers head man in charge Mike Tomlin will be in position to make history. He's the second black coach in the history of the NFL to win a Super Bowl. Former Colts coach Tony Dungy is the other. Tomlin will be the only one with two rings if his team can knock off the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

More importantly, a win will force the non-believers to respect Tomlin as a coaching genius.

Despite his success, there are some who believe he is a product of the system. After all, he took over an organization that already had five Super Bowl titles to its credit. Any coach could've stepped in, right? Not really. Tomlin joins former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs and the only coach to reach two Super Bowls in their first four years on the job. Bill Belichick didn't do that, Bills Parcells didn't, Chuck Knoll didn't and neither did Bill Cowher.

There's more to Tomlin than just being a successful black coach. It's about earning respect as a coach, period. Tomlin didn't play in the NFL, he was never a head coach and was a coordinator for just a year when he interviewed for the job. So it stands to reason he had to jump through hoops to get that respect.

Tomlin's coaching brilliance and moxie was etched in the mind of everyone during the Steelers' final drive in their 24-19 win over the Jets in the AFC championship game. Facing a 3rd-and-6 from the Jets 40 with 2:00 left, Tomlin and his staff opted for a pass play. Huh? Few coaches, if any, would dare to throw a pass in that situation. Ben Roethlisberger executed the play with precision, finding Antonio Brown on a roll-out for a 14-yard pass play.

Said Tomlin: "We weren't going to play not to loose. That's why we threw the ball to Heath Miller on a bootleg on second down prior to that and we got that first down. Ultimately we threw a third-and-six to Antonio Brown. That's pretty funning isn't it, a third-and-six to win the game for a rookie from Central Michigan."

The man knows his team.