One of the defining traits of a Mike Tomlin team since he has taken over as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers is that he is typically due for an extended winning streak at some point in the season. More recently, it has been toward the end of the year, but the timing has varied.
With the Steelers currently in the midst of a four-game winning streak, and winners of five of their last six, there is surging optimism about them. But in the locker room, the players understand. This is still a team that is just a game over .500 with more than half of the season already gone.
Pittsburgh stands at 5-4 on the year even with that extended streak thanks to a dismal 0-3 start. The last time they started off the season losing at least three games, they only finished with a .500 record. They only have to go 3-4 over their final three games to match that, and they still have two winning teams to play, plus four divisional games in total.
During his media availability yesterday, quarterback Mason Rudolph was asked if anything changes about the way that they are approaching games now that they are on the winning side of the record, and are in position to earn a Wildcard spot.
“We are still scratching and clawing to make this thing happen and to keep winning games and keep stacking victories and let the chips fall where they may”, he told reporters, via a transcript of the pool interview provided to us by the team’s media department.
“We are not in the position where we can take anyone lightly”, he added, “and we are looking forward to every opportunity we get, every practice we get, every meeting is crucial for the development of this team and this offense with the moving parts we’ve had. We want to take advantage of it and come ready to play Thursday”.
Going on the road on a short week is their latest challenge, as their next game is tomorrow night against the Cleveland Browns. Even though they are only 3-6 on the season, they are coming off a victory against the Buffalo Bills, who entered the game with a 6-2 record. One of their other victories was against the 7-2 Baltimore Ravens.
Even commentators on the outside are starting to feel good about the Steelers as they surge up in the power rankings across the board, but the team understand just how fragile their situation is. Up next is a three-game stretch against divisional opponents, featuring the first two games on the road.
Five of their seven remaining games are all on the road, in fact, and they are so far 1-2 when away from Heinz Field this year, now 4-2 at home. They have to wrap up the season playing the Ravens in Baltimore. In other words, there’s still a long way to go, despite how far they’ve come over the past month.