The Pittsburgh Steelers opened up their regular season by defeating the Buffalo Bills by seven points. They proceeded to drop the next three games by nine or more points, beginning with a 26-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. They lost 24-10 by the Cincinnati Bengals a week later before finally dropping Sunday’s game to the Green Bay Packers by a deficit of 27-17.
Put together, this is the Steelers’ worst three-game losing streak in decades. As Brooke Pryor shared on Twitter earlier this week, their three consecutive losses by nine or more points is the longest such streak that they have had since 1988, during the waning years of the Chuck Noll era.
Even with the score, the Steelers are on pace to lose their 3rd straight game by 9+ points, their longest such streak since 1988, per @ESPNStatsInfo
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 3, 2021
The Steelers only went 5-11 that year, rattling off multiple extended losing streaks, first of six games and then of four, with just one win in between. They lost by nine or more points three times in a row, in the second half of their first, six-game losing streak.
It began with a loss to the Bengals, falling 23-9, before dropping a game to the Phoenix Cardinals by a score of 31-14. Finally, a week later, the Houston Oilers had their way with them, topping the Steelers by a margin of 34-14, their worst loss of the season.
The Steelers were outscored 421-336 that season, giving up 85 more points than they scored themselves, or an average points differential of 5.3 per game. So far this year, Pittsburgh has allowed 93 points while scoring 67, a current differential of 26 points in just four games. That’s a difference of 6.5 points per game, which over the course of the entire 2021 season would project to an overall points differential of 110.5.
That would be truly atrocious. Of course, it’s not going to end up that bad. This is the worst streak that the Steelers have had in several decades, so the odds of it continuing to average out this bad are awfully low. Still, it’s not looking great, and it hasn’t been fun to watch.
Outside of the 2019 season without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the last time the Steelers have finished a season with a negative points differential was in 2003, the year they were so bad, going 6-10, that they were in a position to draft Roethlisberger in the first place. Not even in 2012 and 2013, when they went 8-8, did they have a negative points differential.
Now they’re already 26 points in the hole. How many wins would it take for them to dig out of that, the way this offense is going?