The Pittsburgh Steelers are licking their wounds after embarrassing themselves at home against a winless team. There are excuses if you want to find them—not having your quarterback is certainly a big one, and hey, it rained, you know—but ultimately, it was the team making mistakes and executing poorly that led to them ending up playing down to the 0:00 mark of the overtime period without a result.
They’re not the only AFC North team working to come back from a humiliation, however; in fact, they’re the only one who isn’t coming off of a double-digit loss. The Cincinnati Bengals were blown out by the Cleveland Browns last week, the latter subsequently being blown out by the New England Patriots this week.
And the Baltimore Ravens embarrassed themselves on Thursday night in a loss to the Miami Dolphins, dropping the game 22-10 when they had absolutely no answer for Miami’s defensive back blitzes. So John Harbaugh, like every other head coach in the division, is in a foul mood right now.
“We made so many mistakes”, he told reporters earlier this week. “We had just error after error. Missed assignments, blocking the wrong guy, going the wrong direction, not communicating. It was just a myriad of mistakes. Why did that happen? There’s a lot of reasons”.
This could certainly sound like Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin yesterday, as Pittsburgh had many of the same issues. Harbaugh did add that they were playing on the road on a short week following an overtime game, which, fair, but still, not a great excuse when nobody wants to hear excuses.
“We played 99 plays on offense the four days before that. I think our guys might have been a little mentally tired”, he said. “But we’re never going to step up and say that’s the reason for it. We just didn’t do a good job of executing the game plan, and the game plan wasn’t good enough to tackle what we were going against”.
Up next for the AFC North’s first-place team is the Chicago Bears, who are coming off a bye week after giving the Steelers a scare a week earlier, making rookie quarterback Justin Fields look like an elite passer—he did, though, make some genuinely excellent throws, granted, and hopefully, he does again on Sunday.
The Ravens are now 6-3, having lost two of their last three games, but are nursing a fragile lead over the 5-3-1 Steelers following their tie against the Lions. The Bengals are sitting at 5-4, just a game behind, with a head-to-head game in hand over the Ravens, while the Browns are 5-5, preparing to host the Lions themselves. Baltimore and Cleveland will square off a week after that.