If anyone is going to believe in the Pittsburgh Steelers, it better be the Pittsburgh Steelers. They may be a party of one but to hear the players tell it, 2-6 isn’t going to have them throw in the towel on the season. In strong and clear terms, Alex Highsmith said Pittsburgh can fix their currently broken year.
“No doubt,” Highsmith told reporters Sunday via the team’s Steelers Live account. “We know the type of team we can be. We know we have the talent, the room to do it.”
Pittsburgh got their season off on the right foot with a chaotic but upset win over the Cincinnati Bengals, winning it 23-20 in overtime. Everything since has been a disaster from losing T.J. Watt late in that victory to the team going 1-6 the rest of the way into the bye week. Twice, the Steelers have been blown out in losses to the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles while playing roughly .500 ball in one-possession games, a stark contrast to the team’s success the past two seasons.
While 2-6 is a historic hole to climb out of, Highsmith isn’t the only one striking an optimistic tone. As we wrote earlier in the day, wide receiver Diontae Johnson echoed a similar sentiment, believing the Steelers could still make the playoffs. Since the NFL moved to a 16-game season, only one team has ever begun a year 2-6 and made the postseason, the 2020 Washington Football Team who “won” the NFC East at 7-9 before falling in the Wild Card round.
Working in Pittsburgh’s favor is getting T.J. Watt back, expected to play this weekend against the New Orleans Saints. Highsmith is using that as a beacon of light going forward.
“How we started the season especially that first game. We know the type of team that we can be. And so I think it’s just get back to the details…we have no doubt in our minds that we can turn this thing around.”
The Steelers have zero margin for error and need a one-day mentality going forward. They are in good position to knock off the New Orleans Saints this weekend, hosting them while they’re coming off a short week and are beat up with injury. It will require at least nine wins to snag a Wild Card spot, meaning Pittsburgh will have to go no worse than 7-2 the rest of the way.
If you had to map out a path forward, that would mean the Steelers probably need to go 3-1 against the AFC North the rest of the way while going 4-1 against the rest of their schedule, which is more favorable than the first half. Still, that optimism will solely reside in the Steelers’ locker room until the on-field results change in a serious and significant way.