The Pittsburgh Steelers this season more than in any other year that I can remember have proven one thing, and that is that they are a team that is capable of beating any team, or losing to any team. Creeping ever closer to a .500 record at 8-6-1, the Steelers have some quality wins under their belts, but a number of baffling losses as well, and the reasons for the bafflement are numerous.
Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro agreed. After they lost to the New Orleans Saints in the final two minutes on Sunday after climbing back from a two-possession deficit to take the lead, he summarized the season pretty succinctly in talking to Jeremy Fowler and reporters.
“Anybody can beat anybody or lose to anybody”, he said, of course, having his own team in mind when making that statement. “We figured that out this year pretty easily”.
The season started off with them playing the Cleveland Browns to a tie. A week later, they got into a 21-0 hole against the Kansas City Chiefs before storming back to tie, only to falter again in the second half. In Week Three, they dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half before nearly giving the game away in the second.
After looking awful in the first game against the Baltimore Ravens, they proceeded to dominate the Atlanta Falcons before squandering a lead and needing a last-minute comeback to beat the Cincinnati Bengals to finish out 3-2-1 heading into the bye week.
The Steelers continued to win their next four games out of the bye, including a blowout against the Carolina Panthers, who were 6-2 heading into that game but have since completely tanked. They won pretty handily in their rematches against the Brown and Ravens as well.
But then they just barely slipped by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who despite having beaten them twice the year before have not been playing well at all this season. And that proved to be a sign of things to come. They have lost four of their past five games, and have held a lead or a share of it in the fourth quarter in each of those losses.
They have lost to everybody from the Saints to the Oakland Raiders in that span, and have had officiating and medical equipment factor into defeats. They squandered a big lead against the Los Angeles Chargers at home thanks in part to some fluky plays and officiating favors.
At this point, the Steelers are a team whom you can feel are capable of going into New Orleans and winning, or losing at home to the Cincinnati Bengals. They have been that kind of Jekyll and Hyde this year, and there is almost always a different reason behind it—other than last-minute defensive failures, which have been a mainstay.