The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on their practice fields Tuesday after using Monday to build team-building at the local Dave & Buster’s and veteran outside linebacker Arthur Moats seems to be pleased with how the first two weeks of OTA practices have gone. Moats, however, did point out a few things he’s noticed so far during the team’s first two weeks’ worth of OTA practices during an interview this past weekend on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“The biggest thing that I’ve noticed was, because we came so close last year, we have such a bad taste in our mouth, because how the results were in the AFC Championship game, is just a renewed focus, a renewed hunger and it’s like, hey, man, we don’t need to start slow and that’s the thing that hurt us last year,” Moats said. “We dropped a couple of games early in the season that could have been the difference between us being on the road versus New England, or them coming to us. So, our biggest thing now is we just got to start fast from the beginning and just maintain it throughout the season.”
While the Steelers didn’t technically start slow last season as they won four of their first five games, their lone loss against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 3 is definitely a game that they were expected to win and especially when you consider that their opponent in that contest was starting a rookie quarterback in the form of Carson Wentz.
As previous stated, while the Steelers did rebound from that road loss to the Eagles with back-to-back wins, they then proceeded to lose four straight games to the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys and that string of defeats had the team sitting at 4-5 at that point and thus put them three games behind the Patriots.
While Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was ultimately able to lead his team to seven straight wins to close out the 2017 regular season, the Patriots did the same and thus the path to the Super Bowl had to go through Foxborough.
The Steelers first five games of the 2017 regular season are against teams that all had .500 or less records in 2016 and as we’ve seen already in the early betting lines, they’re favored to win all of them. One of those first five games is on the road against the Ravens and Moats said over the weekend that they’re still the Steelers main rival as far he’s concerned.
“For us, it’s definitely the Ravens and I feel like just the history of the rivalry, the tough games going back and forth, it’s just hands down, that’s the team,” Moats said when asked which team is currently the Steelers main rival. “And I feel like it’s a healthy rivalry because there’s a mutual respect for both teams, both organizations are first class, but when we get on the field, I feel like because our games are so similar that it’s always that type of vibe.”