While the Pittsburgh Steelers have now won three games in a row, and four of their last five, the reality is that two of the teams that they have beaten are among the worst in the NFL—and the Los Angeles Chargers have not been particularly great, either.
The Cincinnati Bengals are 0-8, still searching for their first win, and have benched Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton, turning to rookie 24-year-old fourth-round pick Ryan Finley to take over the position. The Miami Dolphins just got their first win of the season—against a hapless New York Jets team who has had one good game this season.
So the win over the Indianapolis Colts, who came into Sunday’s game with a 5-2 record, was significant for Mike Tomlin’s team, which is something that he talked about during his pre-game press conference on Tuesday while they prepare for another winning game, the 5-3 Los Angeles Rams.
Not only are the Colts a winning team, they are a team who has shown the capability of winning close games, a fact not lost on Tomlin. The Steelers have been in a lot of close games this year as well, but have come out on the losing end more often than they would like—as was the case last year.
“For us, to be in a game like that, and to secure victory, hopefully that’s a catalyst for us as we move forward. I know that some tremendous battles await us, and it starts with this week in the form of the LA Rams, coming off of a bye week”.
Some of the players after the game even talked about the importance of beating a winning team, about how it might silence some doubters. It certainly did for the Baltimore Ravens after recording consecutive wins against the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. Now 6-2 and on a four-game winning streak, they are in pole position for a bye week after showing they can beat some of the best teams in football.
The Steelers have already lost to some of the best teams in football—including all three of the teams just mentioned, plus the San Francisco 49ers, the last unbeaten team. While there is no shame in losing to a quality opponent, you do need to win some of them.
Pittsburgh has three more games on its schedule against winning opponents, starting with the Rams. They also have the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, and then close out the season against the Ravens. How they fare in those three games should say a lot about their chances of making the postseason, much less how they perform if they get there.