Amid all the drama that is naturally associated with a three-game losing streak by a supposedly good team, it’s easy to lose sight of one important fact, and that would be this: with three games remaining in the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers still retain complete control over whether or not they reach the postseason, and even host a playoff game.
By winning their final three games and going 10-5-1, the Steelers would ensure that they finish with a better record than the Baltimore Ravens, who enter the final three games with a 7-6 record after they lost in overtime on Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs. The best they can hope to finish is 10-6, and they still must face the Los Angeles Chargers and a suddenly decent Cleveland Browns team that has already beaten them this year.
“We realize what’s at stake”, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said in front of his locker yesterday while speaking to reporters about the final three games. “No panic. We still control our destiny, but it’s not going to get any easier”.
As a matter of fact, it might very well be that their two toughest opponents on their entire 2018 regular season schedule are up next. They will host the New England Patriots on Sunday, who pretty much always beat them, though they did nearly win a year ago. As if that were not enough, they visit the New Orleans Saints a week after that.
Still, the way I view the Steelers, they are a team that is capable of achieving any result against any team on any given week. Nothing that they could do surprises me. They could beat the Patriots on the road or they could lose to the Raiders at home, and I would not be shocked by either thing happening. They have that much talent, but also that many issues and, frankly, sometimes just bad luck.
For his part, Roethlisberger said that the team’s recent three-game slide hasn’t had anything to do with motivation or anything like that. “I don’t think it’s from a lack of urgency”, he said. “It could be lack of execution, one thing here or there. We understand what it takes to get it done and just have to do it”.
One of the things that ended up derailing the Steelers in their last game was an outdated and unfamiliar x ray room that failed to provide clarity for the team about the nature of Roethlisberger’s rib injury that he suffered late in the first half.
Without clear knowledge about what they were dealing with, the team at an organizational level, including General Manager Kevin Colbert, was reluctant to put Roethlisberger back into the game until they had to.
Each of their three losses in the past three weeks have come in games that they were capable of winning. They even held leads or were tied in the fourth quarter in each case. It’s not as though they’re close. They just need one or two things to go their way to change their fortunes going forward.