It’s been talked about going all the way back to OTAs, but at least from the players’ perspective, this Pittsburgh Steelers team is the closest that they have ever experienced. Of course, the range of experience varies greatly with each individual, ranging from a decade or more to just a couple of weeks, but as they continue to progress in 2019, they are turning to that bond.
Several players have referenced that bond and its importance in light of the adversity the team has been through over the course of the past year following Sunday’s important and perhaps cathartic victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Bud Dupree was the most notable, but James Conner, who was of course inactive due to his shoulder injury, also reference it during his radio show yesterday.
“This team, the group of guys that we have, the togetherness, we’ve been playing through adversity since training camp, with Coach Drake and everything”, he said on The Fan. “It just seems like it’s been a rollercoaster ride this year. We had excuses, but we’re a team that—we don’t make excuses even though we could take the easy way out”.
The Steelers started the season 0-3 with losses to three of the top teams in the NFL—the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks, and the San Francisco 49ers—during which time they also lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season. They got their first win a week later against the Bengals, but then dropped an overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
They have since rebounded, going 5-1 with only an ugly loss—in many ways—to the Cleveland Browns roughly two weeks ago on Thursday night. They get their opportunity for revenge—hopefully only on the scoreboard—next week.
Now 6-5, they have pulled themselves back into position to earn a Wildcard spot, even if the Ravens have virtually put the division already out of reach. And Conner believes the bond in the locker room not only has been a part of this turnaround, but will continue to fuel them. For the long haul.
“This is a very resilient group. I think it’s gonna do nothing but good for us, the things that we fought through, for the rest of the season and for years to come”, he said. “Just the togetherness, the bond that this group has, it’s special. We need to win football games, but the bond is a big part of it. We’re gonna keep fighting. We realize that it’s cool to have that bond, but we need to win. It’s just something that, we’re gonna have to continue to fight, continue to try to win these games”.
Conner himself believes it will still be some time before he is able to get back out on the field and fight with his brothers in that way, but he knows that the rest of the group has his back as he has theirs, watching them from the sidelines and advising them where he can.