Heading into last week’s game, the Cleveland Browns had not won in back-to-back weeks in 64 games, or four full seasons. They were able to break up that rather unwelcome trend, but just a week later, the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped a similar trend that they would have rather preserved.
For the first time since the middle of the 2016 season, the Steelers have now lost games in back-to-back weeks, first falling to the Denver Broncos a week ago at Mile High Stadium and then last night getting surprised late by the Los Angeles Chargers. They gave up second-half leads in both cases.
They had gone 33 games between consecutive-game losing streaks in the regular season, beginning with a seven-game winning streak with which they closed out the 2016 season. The Steelers were able to go all throughout the 2017 season without losing two in a row and extended that through the first 10 games of this year, running the number up to 33 games, or just over two full seasons.
That seven-game winning streak back in 2016, you might remember, was actually preceded by a four-game losing streak that saw the Steelers fall from 4-1 to 4-5 before ending the year with a 11-5 record. They had a six-game winning streak this year, and could still potentially finish off with a record of 11-4-1, but that would require going on another winning streak of four games that will include victories over the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints.
The Steelers had a string of 26 games from 2013 to 2015 in which they avoided losing two games in a row as well, which included all of the 2014 season, so it’s not as though they have been unaccustomed in their recent history to being able to respond well to defeats.
And to be fair, for at least a large portion of last night’s game, they did respond well. The offense scored touchdowns on their first two possessions and the defense held a potent Chargers offense in check during the first half with the exception of a 46-yard touchdown pass that should not have counted due to an egregious false start by the right tackle that was not flagged.
All we can hope for now is that the Steelers avoid matching their previous losing streak of four games from 2016, and frankly it’s not impossible. Their next opponent is the Oakland Raiders, a game that will take place on the west coast where the team has historically struggled for whatever reason. They just gave the Kansas City Chiefs all they could handle.
And then the Patriots are up next, followed by the Saints. Lose all three of those and you have the longest streak since 2009, when they went from being 7-2 to suddenly 7-7. Even though they won their last two games to finish 9-7 that year, they still missed the postseason. The Steelers were 7-2-1 just two weeks ago, not far from where they were that year.