The Pittsburgh Steelers got sufficiently humiliated on Sunday up in Buffalo, the Bills handing them a 35-point loss. It’s something the city hasn’t seen from its football team in a few decades, not since the dismal waning years of the Chuck Noll era.
Nobody is particularly happy about it, of course, including the players, but cornerback Arthur Maulet was also unhappy with what he believed he was seeing from teammates, coming out of that humiliating defeat. He saw teammates “laughing and smiling” on the sidelines in spite of the lopsided score, and expressed his frustrations about it after the game to his teammates, albeit in front of reporters.
Head coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t too bothered about it. “When you’re getting smashed like that, emotions and pissed-offness and all of that is a component of it”, he told reporters when asked about Maulet’s comments, via the team’s website.
Cameron Heyward was on the same sideline, and he’s not sure that he saw the same thing as Maulet, or at least saw it in the same way, a subject that came up in the latest episode of his podcast, Not Just Football, that posted yesterday.
“I don’t think there was laughing about anything”, he said. “I think everybody’s just a little bit pissed, rightfully so. But we created this mess, and everybody’s gonna own it. There’s nobody that is innocent in this approach. We all have to own it”.
Heyward was almost certainly the best player on the field for the Steelers on Sunday, but that didn’t stop the Bills from dominating them, putting up 38 points without much effort, 31 of which came before halftime. He believes taking accountability for the performance as a whole is the way forward to growing.
“I think in owning it, you get better from it, but in pointing the finger, it can create dissension, so I look forward to just rallying the troops getting through to everybody”, he said. “These last four weeks have not been kind. Luckily I didn’t have a podcast my last 0-4 start”.
Maulet’s comments were made in private to his teammates right after the game, we should keep in mind. There just happened to be some reporters in the area, and his teammates were trying to discourage him from airing that laundry in their presence, to little avail.
One of the biggest themes during this ugly losing streak has been team leaders trying to rally the troops, as Heyward said, and keep things together. Another team captain, Najee Harris, even took aim at the media for their role in presenting opportunities to cause division within the locker room.
Frankly, it’s hard to stay together when you’re 1-4, especially on a team that has so many new and moving parts. They don’t have a long history of going into battle with one another, as other Steelers teams have had in the past. I don’t know how things are going to get better, but I know that they won’t if things get ugly between players in the locker room.