The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost two straight, and those losses come on the feels of a tie with a team that has otherwise lost every single game it has played this year. For the most part, they have had to struggle to close out games even when they win, if they’re not coming from behind for a game-winning drive.
They are desperate to avoid a second three-game losing streak on the year on Sunday night, which would effectively eliminate, or at least extremely impair, their ambitions for a playoff spot, dropping them to under .500 with just five games to play at 5-6-1.
None of that means a damn thing to the Baltimore Ravens and Alejandro Villanueva, who is of course a former Steeler himself. When he was asked this past week about whether or not the team’s recent struggles matter in terms of the upcoming game, he steadfastly said no.
“Listen, Coach [Mike] Tomlin is one of the greatest minds in the National Football League, and I have an incredible amount of respect for him”, he said. “Cam Heyward is probably one of the best, if not the best, defensive player. T.J. [Watt], obviously is a game-wrecker. Alex Highsmith is an unbelievable football player. Devin Bush, [Joe] Schobert, the secondary, Minkah [Fitzpatrick]. Joe Haden is an incredibly intelligent player”.
“Records, statistics, they’re awesome to write articles and to hype up and bring down football teams”, he continued, “but for us as players and us as teams, we understand that we’re going against a very, very good defense – one of the best in the NFL – and so it’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us, regardless of what they’ve done in the past”.
Unfortunately, they’re not going to be getting the Steelers at their best, even relatively speaking. The defense, for starters, will be without T.J. Watt and Joe Haden, two of those players that Villanueva lavished praise on. Stephon Tuitt has of course not been here all year.
The offense is also missing a few key players, some to long-term injuries, and they’re down to their number three guard with Kevin Dotson and J.C. Hassenauer on the Reserve/Injured List, and now Joe Haeg on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. They’re one snap away from John Leglue playing.
Of course, the Steelers have no room to complain in comparison to Baltimore, which has its entire running back room on the Reserve/Injured List, for starters, not to mention Ronnie Stanley, DeShon Elliott, L.J. Fort, Marcus Peters, Derek Wolfe, and Pernell McPhee.
So, it could be worse, for the Steelers. And it should be better. But it’s not.