The AFC North caught a major scheduling break this season when they were slotted to take on the South division for their inter-conference matchups in 2014. The NFC South has historically been a revolving door of contenders, but at the moment, everybody has seemed to be racing to the bottom.
The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be the only team in the division to have not gotten the memo. The AFC North teams other than the Steelers have yet to lose a game against an NFC South team, but Pittsburgh has lost two, and only won one.
Even worse, both of those losses have come at home, in Heinz Field, where the Steelers have been able to conduct an effective offense. Yet their two home games against the NFC South have likely been their two worst, including a 32-point effort yesterday against the New Orleans Saints.
The Steelers dropped a dud in Week Four of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are 1-10 against teams that are not from Pittsburgh. It was their lowest-scoring effort at home this year, mustering just 24 points as they allowed the Buccaneers to march down the field late for the go-ahead touchdown.
That was a week after steamrolling over the Carolina Panthers in the second half the week before, riding a pair of fumbles to jump start a struggling offense that hadn’t found the end zone in eight consecutive quarters. The 37 points they put up in that game remains easily their best away from home.
But then there was yesterday. Despite getting the offense going early, the Steelers still were forced to settle for a pair of field goals in the first quarter, as the defense held Drew Brees and the Saints offense in check. A pair of touchdowns in the second quarter started the rout.
And it was a rout, even if the final score suggested that the Steelers came just a field goal shy of tying the game. Though a Le’Veon Bell touchdown cut it back to an eight-point game, the Steelers still found themselves trailing by 11 on the last play of the game.
That last play turned out to be a three-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown, and, despite there being no time left on the clock and there being literally no possible chance of winning the game, the Steelers still chose to run a two-point play, which was successful.
All that did was make the loss a little more respectable on paper, but anybody who watched the game knew the real score. Bad teams seem to have the Steelers’ number. Three of their five losses have come to teams with losing records this year.
Two weeks from now, Pittsburgh has to travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons, who, much like the Saints, have the potential to be very deadly, particularly on offense, despite their dismal record. It’s hard not the fear the worst for that game, though if the Steelers lose their next game, it would hardly matter.