The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently sitting in second place in the AFC North with a 4-5 record. They have a 3-2 record in Heinz Field, with losses to the two teams with the best records in football, one of which came with Ben Roethlisberger on the side line. They are just 1-3 on the road. That win came in the season opener.
The Steelers won that game 38-16, but since then, they have lost by a score of 34-3, 30-15, and 21-14, with none of the games being particularly competitive. In those three losses, they have allowed 85 points, while scoring just 32, producing a margin of defeat of 53 over those three games. Adding in the opener, they have still been outscored by 31 points in four games.
On the road this year, Pittsburgh has averaged 17.5 points scored per game, but has allowed 25.25 points per game, a different of 7.75 points per game, or almost a touchdown and a two-point conversion.
There is no excuse for this. At least not according to Roethlisberger, who recently spoke to reporters about their road woes heading into a virtual must-win road game in Cleveland against a 0-10 team. “There’s no real excuse”, he said. “We need to step it up”.
Last year, the Steelers went 4-4 on the road. In 2014, they actually went 5-3, winning their final three on the road. With a 3-5 record in 2012 and 2013, the Steelers have a winning road record just once since 2011, the last time that they won at least 12 games.
“We pride ourselves in years past here”, Roethlisberger said, “in being a great road football team. We need to do that. We need to start this week”. They do, because they probably can’t afford to drop a crucial game to the Browns, which is one of their few ‘easy’ targets for victories left on the schedule.
The Steelers, of course, became the first sixth-seed in NFL history to win the Super Bowl, which meant that they had to win three games on the road in the playoffs before the Super Bowl, in 2005. They beat the top-three seeded teams in the AFC and the top team in the NFC for Lombardi number five.
The Cleveland game must be the elixir to cure this team’s ongoing road woes, who since 2012 have posted a 16-20 record away from Heinz Field. The Steelers have a reputation that precedes them when they travel, and it is often said that away stadiums feel like home games at times because of the number of Steelers fans who are either from that area due to the diaspora of their fan base or who have made the trip to follow their team, because they are also a well-traveled group.
Sunday will be home cooking for Roethlisberger as well, who is an Ohio native. He is looking for his 10th win in Cleveland, which will give him more wins in Cleveland than any quarterback since they returned to the league in 1999—including anybody who has played for the Browns.