It’s been one of the recurring themes in the Mike Tomlin era: playing down to the opponent. Dave Bryan had the great stat on Twitter yesterday.
#Steelers now 11-6 On Road Under Tomlin When Favored By 7-Points Or More
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) September 24, 2017
David DeCastro was asked if he feels the team plays down to those opponents. And he couldn’t disagree.
“Um…yeah…that’s been proven the past couple years since I’ve been here,” DeCastro told reporters via Steelers.com. “Reminds me of the Jets game early on. Early turnovers, just flat, couldn’t get anything going. It’s tough, just tough. I don’t know if it’s something in the water or the air. I don’t know, I just wish I knew.”
That Jets game came in 2014, where a 6-3 Steelers’ squad fell to a 1-8 Jets team, 20-13. Pittsburgh would rebound, going 5-1 the rest of the way and finish the year 11-5. But too often, the Steelers have had to rebound instead of avoiding the loss altogether.
I don’t think DeCastro was taking a shot at Mike Tomlin but a question, and an issue, like that falls at the head coach’s feet. But it’s an issue that doesn’t have an immediate solution as DeCastro struggles, like the rest of us, to come up with an explanation.
It’s why, frankly, the idea of this team going 13-3 was always pie-in-the-sky. There is always that one “how did that happen?” loss every year to trip this team up: 2016 to Philadelphia (7-9), 2015 to Baltimore (5-11/Ryan Mallet), and 2014 to New York and Tamp Bay (4-12/2-14).
There are always in-depth explanations for each loss and sure, it happens to other teams, too. Heck, New England got blown out by Kansas City and had to storm back to beat Houston yesterday. There’s only one team in the AFC undefeated right now.
But the Steelers’ misery joining that company doesn’t make it any more palatable and certainly isn’t the path to trying to obtain home-field advantage come playoffs.