The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had the easiest road during the 2022 season, and we won’t know until tomorrow night whether or not it’s leading anywhere, but their getting this far along as well as they have is pretty remarkable considering where they were at the midway point.
And at least for team captain Najee Harris, he’s grateful for it. When asked on Friday about having preferred the first half of the season to have gone as smoothly as the second, he suggested that they wouldn’t have had the second half they’ve had without the first half they went through.
“I feel like when any type of other adversity comes towards our way, we know how to handle it, because we’ve been there before”, he said via the team’s website. “You gotta look at it in every way. Every situation is somewhat good. And I think that’s what we did coming off that bye week and now we’re in position to make the playoffs after starting off how we did”.
The Steelers somehow managed to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in week one—having a fully healthy T.J. Watt and a Bengals offensive line that hadn’t gelled yet played a big role—but they promptly lost their next four games, and six out of the following seven in total leading into their bye.
They’ve looked like another team since that bye, flipping their first-half record to get to 6-2 and doing so via a more stout and opportunistic defense with an offense that has had one of the top run games in the league and which has been excellent on third down.
“That’s why I wouldn’t say that I would [want to] start off smooth, because I don’t think I would”, Harris added. “I’m happy where we’re at right now as a team. The spirits are better, they’re over here doing better just bonding with each other. But I think that really us going through that stuff as we did really helped us into being where we are now”.
As we know, whether or not they can move forward during the 2022 season after where they started is not in their hands. They need to win and they need help to move into the postseason. But this is still a starting point for next season as well.
This was just year two for Harris, for tight end Pat Freiermuth, for left tackle Dan Moore Jr. It was year one for quarterback Kenny Pickett and wide receiver George Pickens. They’ve been through a lot over the course of the past several months, and those experiences will make them better players next season.
And maybe that will lead to the smooth start they missed out on this season. Maybe they can have a smooth year. Joe Burrow was able to take the Bengals to the Super Bowl in his second season. Ben Roethlisberger did it with the Steelers back in 2005. Why not Pickett’s Steelers?