Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers are always going to have their share of detractors from the outside. It’s hard for them to be seen as an underdog, or sneaking up on anybody. They have a reputation, not just of being a flagship franchise and a winner, but also of other negative perceptions, often unjustified.
In other words, if the Steelers make the playoffs, don’t necessarily expect them to pick up a lot of bandwagon fans along the way. But that’s neither here nor there. For Steelers fans, this 2019 team is plenty likable, for not the least of which reason being that they are playing for themselves.
There are few who have been around for more Steelers teams than Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh’s defensive captain who is now in his ninth season, and perhaps is on his way to his third straight Pro Bowl. He has recorded at least eight sacks in three straight seasons and now has over 50 for his career.
“We’ve got a close-knit group here”, Heyward said of this team. “I think that comes with guys in different positions that have been somewhere else before, or young guys stepping up. Then you see guys like Bud flourish in leadership roles, or T.J. They’ve grown into their jobs, and they’re leaders on this team”.
He may be the captain, but there are a lot of players now on the defense who lead, and not all of them are necessarily getting long in the tooth. As he mentioned, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree are among them, as well as Vince Williams. Terrell Edmunds and Devin Bush are emerging into such roles in time as well.
It was, among other things, this leadership, this cohesion, that saw the team through the tumult of the early portions of the season, amidst the injuries and the losses and the seeming hopelessness of their situation. But they’ve been resilient and could take a major step toward securing a playoff berth tomorrow.
“We were challenged early, and we responded”, Heyward observed with pride in his group. “I know going 1-4, it doesn’t give yourself a lot of room to come back from, but we continue to battle, continue to just take it one game at a time, and just try to get after it from there”.
Taking things one step at a time, one game at a time, has been a critical narrowing asset for the Steelers this year, and right now, their only interest is doing everything in their power to assure a victory over the Buffalo Bills, in the final home game of the season.