Some in the national media may begin talking about a Pittsburgh Steelers’ 16-0 season. But not Ben Roethlisberger. And probably not many inside the Steelers’ locker room. Following Sunday’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars that pushed the Steelers to 10-0, Roethlisberger was asked if pressure begins to build on running the table.
“Just focus on one week at a time,” he told reporters post-game. “And that’s what this team has done. I said this week. We’re not chasing perfection in terms of 16-0. We’re chasing Lombardi’s. So that’s the most important thing for us. We just have to focus on this week and playing our best one week at a time.”
Crazy as it sounds, 16-0 isn’t far-fetched anymore. There will still be difficult games on the schedule, starting with a short week playing Baltimore on the road on Thanksgiving. Get past that game with a win and the rest of the schedule looks like: Washington, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Cleveland. Some tough games in there and two AFC North opponents but ones the Steelers will be favored to win.
But the approach Roethlisberger and the team is taking is the correct one. Though they’re in the drivers seat, the Steelers haven’t locked anything up yet. The AFC North is still in play. A loss to Baltimore on Thanksgiving makes things more competitive while the 7-3 Browns can’t be dismissed. The #1 seed carries even more value this year, only the top team getting a first round bye. It’s unlikely the Kansas City Chiefs will lose more than two games the rest of the way. So there’s plenty of incentive on the Steelers staying focused and taking care of business week-after-week.
Plus, the mentality has never been about regular season records. Last week, Mike Tomlin dismissed his “never had a losing season” stat, noting he doesn’t start each year hoping to squeak by at 8-8. Pittsburgh isn’t a team to hang “great regular season record” banners either. Those are reserved for Super Bowls and extra space in their trophy cabinet.
The good news is the Steelers are built to go on a playoff run. An aggressive defense that creates pressure and turnovers. An offense led by a Hall of Fame quarterback and gluttony of weapons. And a solid special teams unit that (usually) isn’t costing this team any games.