The Steelers lost to the San Diego Charger 178-24 this afternoon. At least I think that was the score. I may be wrong, but it certainly felt like that was the score.
But the score isn’t really what matters. What I really want to focus on is the Steelers’ annoying habit of playing down to the level of their competition.
This year, the Steelers have beaten the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants. They’ve also defeated their arch rival, the Baltimore Ravens, who are in first place in the AFC North. And they’ve defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, who they’re battling for the final playoff spot. And they’ve beaten the Washington Redskins, who still have a chance of winning the NFC East. Overall, the Steelers have done pretty well against the good teams in the NFL this season. But the same can’t be said about their results against the bad teams.
So far this season, the Steelers have faced 6 of the bottom 10 teams in the league. And they’ve lost to 4 of the 6, the San Diego Chargers being the most recent. The two that they did beat, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, they beat by a total of five points…….combined. They squeaked out a 2 point victory over the Eagles, and they beat the Chiefs by 3 points.
I’m sure most Steelers fans remember their late season implosion in 2009. That’s when they lost to the Bengals, Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns during a 5 week stretch. Those were possibly the 4 worst teams in the NFL that season. And not only did the Steelers lose to them, but that losing streak cost the Steelers a playoff appearance during a season in which many thought that they should have been a Super Bowl favorite.
So what’s up with the Steelers?
Why do the Steelers repeatedly allow bad teams to beat them? Is it a player issue? Is it a coaching issue? Is it a combination of the two?
I’d be lying if I said that I knew the answer to that question. If I did have the answer, I’d definitely make the problem go away.
What I do know is that the Steelers need to run the table against their final three opponents if they want to have any hope of making the playoffs this year.
The good news is that the Steelers have to face the Cincinnati Bengals one more time this season. And the Bengals are their primary competitor for the final playoff spot. So in that regard, the Steelers’ fate is in their own hands.
The other good news is that the Steelers also have to face the Dallas Cowboys, a team’s also fighting for a playoff spot, albeit in the NFC.
The Steelers have the exact same record (7-6) as the Cowboys and Bengals. On paper, both should be tough games for the Steelers. So I’m not the least bit worried about them. As we’ve already established, the Steelers can hold their own against good teams.
But the bad news is that the Steelers close the season against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are in last place in the AFC North, and they’ve already been eliminated from playoff contention. That makes them the most dangerous of the Steelers’ remaining opponents. After all, bad teams are like kryptonite to the Steelers.
If this were any other franchise in the NFL, their fans would be most worried about the Cowboys and the Bengals. But Steelers fans know better. History has taught us that for our beloved Steelers, the lowly Browns are the greatest threat.