So, the Pittsburgh Steelers spent their Sunday belittling the Browns and in doing so ending a four-game slide that dropped them from a 4-1 start to their season all the way to 4-5 before the re-stabilizing victory, thereby potentially salvaging a season that threatened to slip away. Four days later, they tacked on another win, now stacking victories to become the first team in the AFC North to win six games.
What exactly does this two-game winning streak mean? Where does it fit in context with the rest of the season, and how it has gone? I think this is an important question to answer in order to understand where the team might be heading from this point forward.
I think it is worth noting that the Steelers’ four-game losing streak coincided with what was inevitably their roughest patch of the season. The team lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the middle of that first loss in Miami, and they were not able to recover over the course of that game.
The following week, Pittsburgh was forced to start Landry Jones to go up against the Patriots, and the results from that game, at least by the end, proved to be much as would be expected. Following the bye week, Roethlisberger was a game-time decision to play against the Ravens, and by the way he played, he certainly looked as though he was not ready to return. He threw one interception, but could have thrown three or four more.
Last week, the Steelers offense was back to how they were meant to look, and how they did look, at the start of the season, Pittsburgh put up 30 points on offense, and that was even without the benefit of four extra points. But the defense let a late lead slip away against what is looking like inarguably the best team in the league, the Cowboys, who are now 10-1 on the season and on a 10-game winning streak.
While no loss is merely accepted, understanding how the Steelers’ four-game losing streak unfolded, I believe, presents a sort of logic as to how it happened. Perhaps they should have been able to win one or two of those games—the Cowboys game, for certain—but if there were ever a time for the team to lose four games in a row, the middle of the 2016 season provided the perfect recipe for delivering such a blow through a combination of injury and quality of opponent.
But the Steelers are back on track and over .500 after achieving two key victories on the road, albeit against inferior opponents. No team has yet faced the Browns and not won yet in 11 tries this year. And the Colts were without their quarterback, and lost five starters over the course of the game. That is fair.
But the team has shown over the course of the past two or three games key signs of a strong foundation for the final stretch. They have a key home game against the Giants on December 4, and I think that contest, leading into another two-game road trip, will be key in determining where the Steelers are for the end of the season.