The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team laden with enough veterans who understand not only what it’s like to win but what it takes to win that when they lose a game, they don’t take it lightly, but they also don’t overreact to the circumstances. Even when it’s two losses in a row, which is something the team is facing for the first time since the middle of the 2016 season.
That message started at the top of the depth chart with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was asked immediately after the game if he had concerns about the team’s having dropped two games in consecutive weeks, falling from 7-2-1 and positioning themselves for a top seed to now 7-4-1 and back in the thick of a divisional battle.
Panic level? “None”, he said. It was the same sentiment expressed by cornerback Joe Haden. “It’s just two losses”, he said. “We good. We’re still on the right path of what we need to do. We’ve still got four games left. We’ve just got to tighten back up”.
There was certainly some loosening going on over the course of the past two weeks, especially in terms of ball security while the Steelers were in Denver, and then in the passing game against the Los Angeles Chargers, who were consistently able to dictate their desired coverage matchups.
This is a team that lost four games in a row just two years ago only to rattle off seven consecutive wins to end the regular season, and them steamrolled through the first two rounds of the postseason before finally hitting a snag. In other words, this group is capable of going off at any time. They already had a six-game winning streak ahead of these two losses.
And December has been the time of some of their best football for years under Roethlisberger. Truthfully, they will need it with some high-powered offenses on the horizon in New Orleans and New England, so their own offense will have to keep pace while the defense will have to try to do something they haven’t much this year, which is be opportunistic.
Had the Steelers continued their winning streak, they would be just a half a game behind the Kansas City Chiefs for homefield advantage. Instead, they are a game and a half behind the Patriots and the Texans for either the second or third season, and have just a half-game advantage over the Ravens for their own division.
But their playoff fate is still in their hands in terms of winning the division. Just win the games you play, and that will be enough. “We still have a quarter left of football”, Antonio Brown said, “and we still have our goals right in front of us”.
While it sucks to have dropped two games, it’s good to see that this is a Steelers team that seems to have the right mental makeup to weather that storm, dust themselves off, and pick up where they last left on their road to success.