In order for the Pittsburgh Steelers to finish the 2014 season as division winners for the first time since 2010, they will have to do something that they haven’t done in a while—win four consecutive games.
Sure, they’ve lost four consecutive games in recent history. They lost the first four games of the season in 2013 in a year in which the hole they dug themselves was too deep to ever climb out of. But in order to find the last time that they won four games in a row, we would have to go back to the middle of the 2012 season.
That year, the Steelers bounced back and forth between wins and losses for the first five games of the season, standing a 2-3 before going on their winning streak.
The last opponent during that streak was the Kansas City Chiefs, who, despite losing, were able to derail the Steelers’ season by putting Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines for the next three weeks and preventing him from being the same player when he returned. Pittsburgh ended up going 2-5 the rest of the year.
The Steelers also won four games in a row during the 2011 season, the last time they made the playoffs, even though they failed to win the division with a 12-4 record. In fact, they won four games in a row twice during that run, but ended up being dumped unceremoniously from the first round of the playoffs. They hadn’t been back since, until this year.
The Steelers are hoping that the Chiefs won’t be the last team in their winning streak as they were in 2012. While Roethlisberger got leg whipped on Sunday while throwing a touchdown, however, he looks an awful lot healthier than he did coming out of the last game the Steelers played against Kansas City.
Four-game winning streaks are not easy to come by in this league. After all, four games is a full quarter of an NFL season. a four-game winning streak in the NFL cannot be compared apples to apples to such a streak in the MLB, NBA, or any other major professional sports league. Needless to say, it is a more significant accomplishment.
But the Steelers are finishing this season much in the way that they finished last season, only they didn’t get off to such an abysmal start. They were 2-2 after four games, rather than 0-4, and then were 6-3 after nine games. A year ago, the Steelers had already lost more games at the halfway point than they have all year.
But in 2013, the Steelers finished the year going 6-2 in the last eight games, and 8-4 in the in the last 12. This year, the Steelers have been able to combine a pair of three-game winning streaks, as they did last season, to come on strong late, and have won seven of their last nine games. Win eight out of 10 and you earn yourself a division title for the first time in four years.