The Pittsburgh Steelers I’m sure didn’t need Las Vegas to tell them on Sunday that they were being viewed as underdogs heading into the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The final line came in at nearly plus-10 after the injuries were accounted for late in the week.
But they paid that no mind and simply played their game. While they recognized that they had certain things that had to be accounted for due to the circumstances and that their margin for error was minimal, there was no question in their confidence in the gameplan.
“Everybody was just locked in”, veteran safety Terrell Edmunds told reporters about the focus of the makeshift secondary going into the game, via Dale Lolley for the team’s website. “We all bought into the same job because we all just wanted to win. We were 1-4, now we’re 2-4. Not much has changed with our mindset with things. We’ve just got to try to get another win”.
And there’s the rub, of course. While they may have managed to come together to steal a win over the Buccaneers, that only got them to 2-4 on the season. The AFC North is bad enough that they are just one game out of first place, but their margin for error for the season is about as razor-thin as it was this past week.
And the secondary, even if healthy, faces a different kind of challenge in the Miami Dolphins. For one thing, it’s in primetime, and it’s on the road, and head coach Mike Tomlin hasn’t been bashful this season in acknowledging the disadvantages of playing away from home.
A lot of this Dolphins team is new—including the head coach, of course, considering they have Miami’s previous head coach on their current staff—but one thing that is familiar to them is wide receiver Tyreek Hill, whom they saw six times as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
And Hill is doing Hill-like things down in Miami. But the Steelers have actually generally been able to keep him in check when they have played the Chiefs, even if that didn’t always translate to wins. Even still, they’re not counting on that pattern to continue.
“That’s a whole different quarterback, whole different situation”, Edmunds said when he was asked about having had prior experience, and prior success, playing against Hill with the Chiefs, who is one of the game’s premiere deep threats. “We’ve just got to focus on what we’ve got to do”.
You can see the theme emerging. Focus. Locked in. It’s tunnel vision the Steelers are looking through these days, focusing only on the task at hand. That is where their attention needs to be, at least if they nurture any hopes of playing postseason ball in 2022.