The defense has been carrying the bulk of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ weight this season. I don’t think that any outside observer would suggest otherwise. But that’s not how the Steelers view things internally, especially in the locker room. As fans, it may be harder to see, but the locker room is a fraternity among 63-plus players who share common bonds as a collective as much or more so than within subsets.
So I thought it was prudent and telling when T.J. Watt following yesterday’s game responded to a question in which he was asked if he felt that it was up to the defense to put points on the board, after the offense managed just 20 points in total over the past two games.
“Football is the ultimate team game. Everybody has to produce. I think that’s the beautiful thing about football, is it takes all three, offense, defense, and special teams, to win a football game”, the prospective candidate for the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year told reporters after the game.
“We’ve got to get back in the lab as a team. We’re never gonna separate”, he added. “This is the Pittsburgh Steelers, we love everybody in the locker room, we believe in everybody in the locker room. It’s just a matter of putting together a complete game”.
This sentiment feels as though it’s more true this season than it has been in years, with multiple players having spoken to a difference in the climate of the locker room, with there being greater and more frequent fraternizing between players across both sides of the ball in comparison to recent years.
The defense has been very supportive of the offense this season—both on the field and with the microphones in front of their faces. They talk about needing to play complementary football, yet they’ve had to maintain such high standards to even keep the offense in the game. And in the past two weeks, even that has not been enough.
Then again, the offense has been carrying the team for the better part of the past decade, so perhaps it is only fair. And everybody understands the circumstances. Without Ben Roethlisberger, it’s tough sledding no matter what, but they’ve still managed to go 8-5 in the 13 games played since his injury put him on the Reserve/Injured List.
It’s the right mentality to have, and healthy for the team, hopefully one that will continue to carry on into next season, no matter what unfolds next week. Playoffs or no, this team, with a healthy Roethlisberger, could potentially be something special next year.