It’s probably easier to feel good about 8-0 when you are able to do it in commanding fashion, or without having had the need to author fourth-quarter comebacks for wins seven and eight—even against a bad team starting their fourth different quarterback, one who has never started before.
Nevertheless, the Pittsburgh Steelers have to live with the burden of, in fact, being 8-0, even if it hasn’t been the prettiest journey that any team has ever taken in getting to that point. They’ll take it, of course, but with the perspective of understanding that it doesn’t help them win the next eight games.
“It’s significant as we sit here today”, head coach Mike Tomlin said after the game against the Dallas Cowboys, “but once I go to work tomorrow, it’ll be less significant. We’ll be singularly focused on getting ready for our next AFC North opponent, and that’s life. I’m appreciative of it, but we’re not going to dwell on it”.
As for worries about teams gunning for them because they are undefeated and have the best record in football, Tomlin wasn’t overly concerned about that either—and that’s because he always feels like others are gunning for them and giving them their best.
“We’re the Pittsburgh Steelers. Everybody knows what that means”, he said. “We get everybody’s best punch, regardless of record. I think people respect our brand, and they respect our franchise and its history. That’s been my experience over 14 years here, regardless of our record. People know when they’re playing the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the certain responsibility that comes with our reputation. We’re gonna get people’s best shot”.
And that always applies to division football, with the Cincinnati Bengals up next. And once again, they get an AFC North opponent coming out of a bye week, although the Bengals have one of the worse records in the league—yet they have been competitive pretty consistently, especially offensively, with Joe Burrow now under center.
I think a lot of fans got a cold splash of water to the face on Sunday when the Steelers had to eke out a win against the Cowboys, a 2-6 team that has been battered by injuries, with a lot of people having been talking about the probability of going at least 10-0 leading up to their rematch with the Baltimore Ravens.
This is the National Football League. No game is supposed to be easy no matter how ‘poor’ the opponent might be. Any given week, any team can compete with any other team under the right set of circumstances. And when you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, your opponent might be extra motivated.