The Pittsburgh Steelers’ last three games had come down to the final play leading into yesterday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Three weeks ago at the Tennessee Titans, it was a missed 45-yard field goal that spared them overtime. Two weeks ago, Minkah Fitzpatrick nearly intercepted a pass at the goal line to end the game at the Baltimore Ravens. He also played closer at the goal line against a week later at the Dallas Cowboys.
Now finally back in Pittsburgh for some home cooking, this game didn’t even come close to the wire, and had the makings of a blowout by halftime. But does that mean anything relative to their recent experiences—especially their close call against a ‘bad’ team in Dallas, which at one point in the game had a 13-point lead?
The problem with answering such questions—and with having players try to answer those questions—is the simple reality that everybody is going to have a different mindset and respond differently. A rookie, for example—perhaps one that has never lost before—might be more likely to overlook somebody.
“Just a week-by-week mindset, not taking any team for granted”, is what wide receiver Chase Claypool told Aditi Kinkhabwala that he took away from last week’s game. “I think that’s important when you’re playing certain teams. Like Dallas came out firing. We learned our lesson from last week and we came out firing ourselves this week”.
— Steelers Depot 🦃 (@Steelersdepot) November 16, 2020
But did they really ‘learn’ that as a team? Did they actually overlook the Cowboys as a whole, or did Dallas simply play well, and to a certain degree, had the advantage of having a quarterback on whom there was a minimal scouting report?
Veteran outside linebacker T.J. Watt was less confident about the idea of learning lessons from such games. “I don’t know”, he said after the game. “I think right now we’re just taking it one game at a time. We’ll take a win any way we can possibly get it. We saw a really good week of practice we had and the train keeps rolling”.
At the end of the day, they’re just happy with the W. It’s nice to get one of them where you’re not biting your nails until the clock hits zero, admittedly, but playing in and winning close games—especially when you have zero losses—doesn’t necessarily mean that your preparation or motivation was lacking. As they say, any given Sunday.