Technically, the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t lost a game since Week 4, when they fell to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. But their four-game winning streak is also no more. Their most recent result was a tie with the Detroit Lions after drawing even at 16-16 on Sunday through 70 minutes of play, but few in the locker room appear to feel that way.
While wide receiver Diontae Johnson kind of gave a generic answer after the game when he was asked if the tie felt like a loss, others, such as Joe Schobert and Ray-Ray McCloud, did acknowledge that drawing with the Lions, especially in the manner that they did, had the taste of defeat.
“I agree with Ray-Ray. It definitely feels like a loss”, tight end Pat Freiermuth said on Wednesday. “Obviously it’s not, but definitely with that feeling, it’s kind of like, what could we have done to win that game, to squeak out an extra point or something like that. It definitely feels like a loss, but we’re on to the Chargers now, and just moving forward”.
The tie does keep the Steelers just ahead of 5-4 Cincinnati Bengals and just behind the 6-3 Baltimore Ravens heading into this week’s slate of games, but we won’t know until the end of the season whether or not that result works more like a win or a loss based on record. The last time they tied, in 2018, it cost them a playoff spot.
“It’s just the desire not to have that feeling of losing”, Freiermuth said about what will spark the team, and how that tie may help keep the team focused after not achieving a victory for the first time in several weeks. “I think everyone hates losing, and it’s fun when we get those Victory Mondays and stuff like that. Just learn from it and move on”.
Of course, it’s not that straightforward. They have a number of issues to contend with regarding player availability, including two key starters on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, and a number of others who are at varying levels of participating in practice due to physical injuries.
And they are about to embark on a two-game road trip against teams with winning records, starting with the 5-4 Los Angeles Chargers. Then they have to travel back east to visit the Bengals before preparing to host the division-leading Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers’ odds, I would imagine, change dramatically based on whether or not Roethlisberger is available, as would be expected of just about any team that has a franchise quarterback. Being down a couple of All-Pros on defense wouldn’t be much easier to contend with, though. They may have to deal with both.