We are at the doorstep of the playoffs. And yet we are doing an awful lot of hand-wringing. I thought perhaps it would be a good opportunity in the middle of the week heading into the regular season finale to take a step back and appreciate where we are right now, because it seems to me it’s being overlooked to some degree.
In case you have forgotten, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a 12-3 record with a winless team only standing between them in a tie for their fourth-best season in team history based on their final record. It is pretty difficult to do much better than 12-4, after all, needing to win better than three out of every four games.
Not only have they already secured a 12-win season, which is their first since 2011, they have also already secured a bye week, which is the first time that they have managed to achieve that since 2010. In fact, the last two times that they have had a bye week, they have advanced to the Super Bowl.
But instead much of the conversation has been swirling around tangential matters, as has been the case for most of the season at this point. From Le’Veon Bell’s holdout to the anthem controversy, from the dashing of water coolers to the malcontent of a troubled wide receiver, and capping it all off, the spiraling degeneration of the relationship between the team and James Harrison, the soap opera nonsense has been getting far too much of the attention.
If you listen only to the major media narratives and the disgruntled fans, you would think that the Steelers are having a terrible season, instead of the excellent one that they, in fact, are having. They have achieved a number of things already this season that they haven’t in a while, on both sides of the ball.
They have sent eight players to the Pro Bowl, for example. That includes three offensive linemen, and a kicker. It’s been decades since they have sent a kicker or punter to the Pro Bowl, but Chris Boswell has proven to be that type of player.
The defense has also again eclipsed 50 sacks in a season, which isn’t necessarily something that happens all too often, with an opportunity to add to that total. And they don’t sack anybody more than they sack the Cleveland Browns, I might add. Cameron Heyward also become the first defender with double-digit sacks in years.
To be quite honest, the only bit of ‘drama’ that really merits attention at this point is the recovery of inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who suffered a severe spinal injury on the field a few weeks ago against the Bengals.
When this season ends, that is the only thing of importance that will have happened that goes beyond the football field. All of that other nonsense will be just a footnote. It’s all background noise, and the team has done a great job of drowning it out—despite Al Riveron’s best efforts. No, I haven’t forgotten about that.
This has been a great season of football for the Steelers as they seek to honor the legacy of Dan Rooney, and we are on the eve of potentially their most rewarding postseason run in just under a decade. Let’s enjoy the ride. It could be the last one we have for a little while.