The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.
They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom are starting.
There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Would the Steelers have ended up winning if they got the special teams touchdown and rode that momentum into the second half?
Hypotheticals are impossible to answer, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try, and yesterday’s game presented us with a great what-if. The Steelers have a very strong case that the officials blew the call at the end of the first half, ruling that Joe Haden was offsides on a field goal attempt that Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked and returned for a touchdown.
That took seven points off the board for the Steelers and gave the Packers another chance at a field goal, which they made, creating a 10-point swing on one highly questionable, and perhaps flat out wrong, judgement call by the officials.
Because of that play, it went from 17-14 Steelers to 10-17 Packers instead, with Green Bay getting the ball after the half winning by a touchdown rather than trailing by a field goal. They would go on to beat the Steelers by 10 points—the margin of the score swing.
So the question is, how would the second half have played out differently had the score been 17-14 at that time rather than 10-17? Would Aaron Rodgers and company have simply used that as fuel and stormed the field, playing highly aggressively?
Or would the Steelers have actually been able to build on that momentum to start taking some semblance of control over the game? There were some good things here and there that they managed to do. They even got Najee Harris moving on the ground a bit.
I suppose at the heart of this question is, how much does ‘momentum’ affect the game? And can you sustain that sort of momentum through halftime, with the other team having the ball first? The defense, of course, can benefit from momentum too.