The Pittsburgh Steelers have put together five wins over the course of the first seven games of the 2017 NFL season; in none of them have they put together what I would describe as a ‘complete game’. But complete games don’t get you an extra-plus win, just a regular old win granted to you by scoring one more point than your opponent.
And so far the Steelers have done that whole winning thing as well as anybody in the AFC. As I noted last night, they are actually currently positioned atop the conference with their 5-2 record, which matches the best any other team has to offer. Just last week, the Chiefs were 5-0 before losing to Pittsburgh, and then Oakland, in a four-game span.
The team talked for a few years about setting a goal of scoring 30 points per game, but they haven’t even done that once so far in 2017. They did allow one team to score 30 points against them, however. And they have hit at least 26 points now three times, winning in each of those contests.
In their two losses, the Steelers were held below 18 points, scoring just nine points a couple of weeks ago at home against the Jaguars. That game was, of course, an anomaly, featuring five interceptions, two returned for touchdowns. Ben Roethlisberger has just one interception in the last two games, by the way, and that one being on Antonio Brown for stopping his route.
Interestingly enough, the defense has not allowed an opposing offense to score at least 20 points in six of the first seven games. The only exception came in an overtime loss to the Bears back in week three, which was of course the beginning of the end, as you will recall.
The Jaguars scored 30, but, of course, 14 of them came off of pick-sixes, so the defense only allowed 17 of those points—the missed one extra point attempt. If my memory serves, one or more of the other scores was probably also set up by a short field off of an interception.
There’s no getting around the fact that the Steelers are not playing flawless ball. But literally nobody is. Not the Patriots. Not the Falcons. Not the Chiefs. Not the Cowboys. Not the Eagles, the team with the best record in football, pending tonight’s game.
And that is the key. There is parity around the league because there are no dominant teams. The Steelers have enough firepower on offense and enough playmaking capability on defense to stand up to any team on any given day. That doesn’t mean that they will, but that they could.
The offense showed once again yesterday that they can move the ball down the field with relative ease, both on the ground and through the air, and that is without hitting on all cylinders. The defense showed that they can stiffen up and create pressure when they have to, and turn the ball over. That can be enough in a year like this.