The Pittsburgh Steelers have the task this week of preserving a streak—or rather a couple of streaks. While they are attempting to win their own fifth consecutive game of the season, and have first place in the AFC North on the line as they do, they’re also trying to make sure that the Detroit Lions don’t get their first win of the season.
They’ll be hosting the winless wonders Sunday afternoon, and they’ll be doing so after playing a Monday night game, while the Lions will be coming off of a bye, so that’s a not insignificant advantage for their opponents. While Steelers linebacker Joe Schobert has never been with the Lions, however, he knows what those players are going through, having experience extensive losing streaks himself with the Cleveland Browns and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“It’s the NFL. You’re trying to win the football game. The more the losses stack up, the more badly you want to win your first game of the season”, he told reporters on Thursday when he was asked how he thought the Lions locker room was handling this losing streak.
“I would expect every week, especially coming off a bye, that they’re gonna be giving their best shot”, he added. “You saw against the Rams, a lot of punt fakes, a lot of onside attempts, pulling out all the stops, and I would expect nothing less, trying to win a football game by any means necessary”.
The Lions earlier this century became the first team in NFL history to ever go 0-16 for a season. Schobert’s Browns ended up duplicating that in 2017, and that was after going 1-15 the year before that. Yet they were able to go 7-8-1 a year after that.
“Anybody can win any given week. Everybody has really good players”, Schobert contested. “The parity in the NFL is not like college football, where any team can really beat anybody, except for maybe Alabama once in a while. But you’ve got to bring it”.
Schobert began his career going 1-31 during his first two seasons in the NFL. The Browns finally posted a non-losing season in 2020—after he signed with the Jaguars in free agency, who went 1-15. So he’s been a part of three teams during his six seasons in the NFL who lost 15 or more games.
In other words, he’s very familiar with the circumstances the Detroit team they’re about to host are facing, and now he knows what it’s like being on the other side. “You don’t want to be the first one to lose to a team like the Lions, and they’re gonna be coming for it”, he said.
The Steelers had better be coming for it, as well, as they have first place in the AFC North on the line. A non-conference loss would be less damaging in tiebreaker scenarios, but you want to control your destiny no matter what—and you never want to not win.