November 27, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (7) points at the defense during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Pittsburgh won 13-9. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE
The Steelers have now put together three back-to-back wins to build to their 5-3 record. Reporters have stopped asking about what needs to be fixed and are now piling on the accolades. These accolades are a bigger distraction than the criticism. I like it better when the Steelers are underdogs. To paraphrase Jimmy Johnson’s opinion about his former team (the Dallas Cowboys shudder), teams need to have fear and be hungry so that they work hard. I don’t care if the Kansas City Chiefs are considered the worst team in the league. The Steelers need to have an appetite that will carry them through the season. Now is not the time to let up. Did anyone see how many points the Ravens put up against the Raiders? The Ravens won 55-20 with a score that made the Raiders look like a college team. Yeah, the same Raiders who BEAT the Steelers in week 3 in a close game.
The Kansas City Chiefs are Todd Haley’s former team and that’s another distraction because people (like me) keep bringing it up. On Fox Network’s Sunday pre-game show, Jay Glazer announced that Todd Haley is in arbitration with the Chiefs because they are withholding the salary he owes them. I give a lot of credit to Todd Haley for keeping that quiet and having nothing but good things to say about his former players during his weekly interview on Thursday. I thought the press asked him more about Kansas City then about Pittsburgh and Haley handled it with integrity and dignity. He could have called the Kansas City owners out, he could have made some snarky jabs, or he could have flat out said there was bad blood between him and the Chiefs organization, but he didn’t. He continually brushed off the questions that were trying to lead him that way. I must say, based on how he handled some of his interviews during his time as the head coach there, I’m surprised at his restraint now. I hope it truly is not a distraction as Haley repeatedly assured everyone. The Steeler’s organization, particularly Mike Tomlin’s, expectations are for nothing less than total focus on the Steelers. I’m sure it helps that the game is in Pittsburgh.
My bottom line, is that the Steelers need to focus like this is a must win game. The Ravens sit on top of the division and there isn’t room for another Steeler’s loss. They need to keep momentum going in their favor for Baltimore’s arrival at Heinz Field in Week 11. Anyone who says the Ravens aren’t the same Ravens from the beginning of the season because they don’t have Ray Lewis, need to reconsider their opinion. The Steelers haven’t had Troy Polamalu for several games and they have figured it out how to run the defense without him. Looks to me like the Ravens might have a handle on life without Ray Lewis too.