Just three games into the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers already find themselves dug into a hole that the vast majority of previous occupants have found it impossible to climb out of. Only a small percentage of teams in the past who have started a season 0-3 have been able to recover well enough, and have enough good fortune of events outside of their control, to make the postseason.
Of course, there are plenty of teams who have lost three consecutive games only to have made the postseason. Generally, when you lose your first three games, though, it’s because you’re simply a bad team, and nobody probably expected you to make it.
Just for a tinge of perspective, the Steelers went 11-5 and reached the AFC championship game in 2016 despite losing four consecutive games from games six through nine. They started that run 4-1 and came out of it 4-5, but finished with a seven-game winning streak.
Are the Steelers one of these teams who are actually good and can respond to such a terrible start? So much of that simply depends upon the development of Mason Rudolph. But for the other 52 players, it’s all about doing whatever it takes to get the 0 out of the win column next week.
“We just have to get this W”, defensive captain Cameron Heyward told Teresa Varley for the team’s website. “That’s all it comes down to. I don’t care how it gets done, it has to get done. Our execution has to be flawless from here on out. Our room for error is out the window. We have to be perfect in everything we do, especially in practice”.
The good news is that the Steelers’ next opponent is in the same boat. The Cincinnati Bengals also enter Monday’s game at Heinz Field with a record of 0-3, and, let’s face it, the Bengals haven’t beaten the Steelers since 2015, currently boasting an eight-game losing streak, including the postseason.
“It’s my job to keep us accountable”, Heyward added. He is the most veteran player on the defensive side of the ball, in his ninth season now. The others look to him for leadership. “It’s my job to keep guys ready for the opportunity. Both teams are 0-3 but one team is going to be 1-3 after this game”.
It doesn’t matter how the job gets done at this point. Winning pretty should be the furthest thing on everybody’s minds. Any view of the final scoreboard in which the number next to the Steelers’ name is the higher figure is a beautiful sight. If it’s a matter of effort, then nobody sets the done for that better than Heyward.