The Pittsburgh Steelers dragged a battered team into Acrisure Stadium yesterday and still managed to come out with a win. Perhaps a big reason for that is because those in the locker room never doubted themselves—especially the guys who were called upon to fill in.
Guys like rookie tight end Connor Heyward, who played a much bigger role on Sunday than he had in the first five games due to the fact that starting tight end missed the contest, still in the concussion protocol from last week.
Heyward was interviewed in the locker room after the game and he was asked if getting the win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers felt like a collective sigh of relief for the team. His response perhaps might surprise you. “No”, he said via the team’s website. “We knew we were a good team, but it’s always hard getting that first one. You’ve got to get that first one”.
“Coach [Mike] Tomlin always talks about getting that first one and then building off that, getting that first win”, he added, “and then hopefully we go out there and take care of business next week in Miami. But one game at a time, that’s what we’re doing for the rest of the year, just one game at a time”.
The win now pushes the Steelers to all of 2-4 on the season, ending a four-game losing streak, so they’re still nowhere that they want to be. On the flip side, Buccaneers players and coaches were being asked about his disheartening it was to lose to a one-win team riding a four-game losing streak, coming off of a 35-point loss. Yet nobody even hinted at the possibility of having underestimated their opponent.
“They’re a great team, but we’re a really good team. We just went out there and played really hard”, Heyward said. “I feel like we can do this week in and week out. You just have to be consistent. You saw so many guys making plays throughout the offense, special teams, defense. A real team win”.
The Steelers will hopefully get plenty of reinforcements this week. In addition to Freiermuth, the Steelers were also without safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, cornerbacks Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Levi Wallace, and of course outside linebacker T.J. Watt. They also suffered in-game injuries, with the hope that they can get starting quarterback Kenny Pickett back, but he will have to go through the concussion protocol first.
The Steelers show at times like these that they do have talent. More often than not, however, they can’t afford to make mistakes. They were fortunate to live through a number of minor ones yesterday. They can perhaps get past some in Miami. But that won’t be every week by any means.