Sep 29, 2013; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson (81) runs past Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (43) during the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Martin-USA TODAY Sports
No NFL team wants to start the season 0-4. The Pittsburgh Steelers landed there last season in what turned to be a dreadful first half to 2013. The Steelers opponents in Week 4, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are sitting at 0-3 and are threatened with falling to 0-4 if they can’t pull out a win on Sunday.
For the Steelers, this must be like looking into a mirror.
At 0-3, the Bucs are in last place in the NFC South. They rank 20th or worse (3 categories at 30th or worse) in just about every defensive and offensive category in the NFL. They lack leadership with their coaches. They lack execution with their players. They appear to lack that “fire” the good teams have and the bad teams yearn for. They lack identity. It’s a rough road that is all too familiar for this Steelers fan, and should be for most of Steeler Nation.
The Steelers struggled in their first four games (six really) of the season. Close and tough losses to the Titans and Cincinnati and then a rough loss to the Bears left the Steelers with an 0-3 record and readying themselves for a run savvy Minnesota Vikings squad. The trip to London didn’t turn out so well for the Steelers, and they lost to the Vikes to drop to 0-4. The team lacked identity on both sides of the ball. What was once a stout defense had many holes. An offense that appeared to know where it needed to go by putting the game on Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulders quickly changed to a run first and pocket pass offense with the hire of Todd Haley. They were a mess.
It ended up being the players that hung tough and rallied during the second half of the season. to at least keep the ship from taking on any more water. They went 6-2 in their final eight games and just missed the playoffs. They didn’t lose heart, and it sounds like the Bucs are trying to hold onto those same principles.
"Everybody has to stay positive, keep believing and just trust in the system and trust the guys around you and the work and effort we’re putting in. – Bucs DE Michael Johnson"
There are some strong similarities between the Bucs squad of 2014 and the Steelers squad of 2013. The Steelers appear to have ‘found themselves’ during the Panthers game and will look to keep the momentum moving forward against a familiar looking Bucs team. The Black & Gold know where the Bucs are right now. They’ve been there before.
Hopefully the mirror that the Steelers are looking in is a rearview one. And, hopefully the Bucs fail to find themselves for just one more game.