The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Is your morning cup of coffee half full or half empty?
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 11-2. They have not been 11-2 since 2004. They have only been 11-2 a couple times ever. They have done exceptionally well this season. But an awful lot of that great work they’ve done could fade away if they can’t beat the Patriots next week.
And it is finally Patriots Week, so we can talk about it. Assuming New England wins tonight, they’ll both go into next week’s game 11-2, and the winner more likely than not will secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and thus probably will host the AFC Championship game.
But last night still accomplished a lot for Pittsburgh. It guaranteed a playoff berth, after all, and the division, therefore a home game in the postseason. It also virtually guaranteed them at least the three seed, and got them a lot closer to a bye week. If they win two of their last three games, they will unquestionably secure a bye.
And last night, for most of the night, at the beginning and at the end, the offense was amazing. Without much assistance in terms of field position from the defense or special teams, the offense put up 39 points, including four touchdowns and four field goals, scoring on eight of 11 possessions.
But, on the flip side, the defense was, for most of the night, awful, except for the beginning and the end. They allowed the Ravens, statistically one of the worse offenses in the league, to score 38 points, a season-high against this unit, while allowing five touchdowns. Alex Collins averaged 6.7 yards per carry and the defense allowed six explosive plays while only getting one turnover, though they caused two fumbles.
So is your glass full today, basking in the glow of the offensive success, or half empty, screaming internally over the defensive struggles? How many games can they come back to win in the final minute? The answer is, apparently, most of them. But all of them?