There isn’t a Super Bowl champion in NFL history that hasn’t gone through at least some type of adversity over the course of the year. Not even the undefeated Miami Dolphins of 1972 had an error-free season. They had to overcome a two-score deficit in just the third game of the season in the fourth quarter. They had to come back with five minutes to go in the opening round of the playoffs against the Cleveland Browns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, however, surely feel as though they have already had their share of adversity for 2020, even after starting the season 11-0 and being the last team to lose a game. From the ridiculous helmet fiasco at the beginning of the regular season to silly dancing controversies and fines for Covid-19 protocol violations, there have been plenty of ‘issues’ off the field.
Then there have been the very real on-field concerns, starting with the losses to injury of Zach Banner, Devin Bush, and Bud Dupree, a trio of starters. And then there have been the drops, the inability to run the ball, the explosive plays allowed, the lack of explosive plays on offense, and on down the list.
In spite of all that, they are 12-3, winners of the AFC North, and the presumed third seed in the AFC, so things could be a lot worse. And perhaps they will be better for what they have gone though.
“Hopefully these negative experiences can galvanize us, and strengthen us as we move forward. We’ve got some big battles that lie ahead”, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Sunday after his team overcame a 17-point second-half deficit.
“We’re far from perfect. Our warts are well-documented”, he went on. “I’m sure you guys will continue to chop those us, and we’ll continue to work on them in an effort to get better and increase our chances of winning each and every time out”.
The Steelers’ warts certainly are well-documented, and I’m sure we here have been as on top of them as anybody else, with video analysis and the works. This obviously is not a team without issues, but then again, there isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t have weaknesses.
It ultimately comes down to how strong your strengths are and how much you can minimize your areas of weakness. By and large, the Steelers have been able to mask their lack of a running game—to argue otherwise while they have a 12-3 record would be absurd—but you don’t get any mulligans in the postseason, because one loss sends you home until September.