The Pittsburgh Steelers have one game left to play in the determination of their fate. Unfortunately for them, their fate does not rest solely in the outcome of their own game. They lost the right to a play-in game with their loss on Sunday to the New York Jets, so instead they must get assistance to reach the postseason. Assistance that never came in 2018 under similar circumstances.
They have control over only one facet of the equation, however: the outcome of the game in which they play in the season finale against the Baltimore Ravens. And thus, it’s the only thing on which it makes sense to place their focus.
“The only scenario that matters is if we win. That’s how I see it”, said defensive captain Cameron Heyward, who has been part of the nucleus of the Steelers’ winning defense. “I’m not looking for anybody else to do the job. I know we have to look for help, but the job’s got to get done in here”.
The job of the defense on Sunday should be considerably easier than it might be otherwise since the Ravens have locked up homefield advantage already, and will be resting a number of prominent starters. Guaranteed to be inactive are Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, and Marshal Yanda may also get rest, among others.
It will probably be up to the defense to keep this as low-scoring a game as possible, especially in light of the fact that the Steelers have only put up 20 points in the past two weeks. In fact, they have never scored more than 27 points in any one game all year, which is pretty stunning.
“I’m not looking for a pat on the back”, he added in taking comfort in what this team has already accomplished under the circumstances. “We’ve got to get the job done. To say, ‘oh, we should be happy to be where we are’ would be foolish. We only get judged if we make the playoffs or not, and we’ve got to punch our ticket this week”.
That judgement also rings a lot more hollow, considering they are 8-5 and had the position to take hold of the number five seed. But right now they are threatening the finish the season the way they started: on a three-game losing streak.
I supposed when you start a season having dug yourself a nice, deep hole, it’s only fitting that you end up lying in it.