Pittsburgh Steelers can no longer ignore what critics say about them
By Austin Lloyd
After their lackluster start to this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers can no longer just play to play.
Last season, regardless of its conclusion, was a good one for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Following an 11-0 start, they won their division, made the playoffs, and quarterback Big Ben Roethlisberger was a CPOY candidate.
All throughout that stretch, there were nothing but haters in the media, from fans to personalities. However, the Steelers could usually block out all of those negative vibes; an NFL team doesn’t just so happen to win its first 11 games, after all.
Sadly, only three games into the 2021 slate, Pittsburgh has nothing redeemable to fall back on. There’s no big win streak, no impenetrable defense, no improvement on offense that can help turn a blind eye to what all is going wrong in the Steel City.
So far, the Steelers have an okay win over the Buffalo Bills, and that’s just about it for the positives column. Since then, they have lost back-to-back games to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals, respectively (neither of which were even playoff powers last season).
In other words, Pittsburgh is back to losing games that they shouldn’t; yet this time, they don’t have 11 wins to counter them. And to make matters worse, they are losing for the exact same reasons as before.
Steelers are trending down fast
Despite what critics would say about Big Ben, the offensive line, and even the rushing game, the offense was consistently good enough to hold on in 2020 (especially in second halves). A big reason for this was the lethality of the defensive front seven that kept opposing offenses as dormant as possible week in and week out. But stop and think about it: can we, as Steelers fans, say the same about this season thus far? No.
Rather, we are seeing Pittsburgh pick up exactly where they left off with their 1-5 stretch to tie a horrid bow on last year. We saw the same problems then that we are now: a troubled offense, a tired defense, and unjustified defeats.
Being division champs and clinching a playoff spot gave nervous fans an out to focus on, and Steelers players/coaches seemed to do the same, with a “yeah, yeah just you wait” mentality. But now, it’s looking like there isn’t much to wait on, with the 2021 squad already donning half of the regular season losses that the previous run saw.
It’s one thing to be down, but it being for the exact reasons that critics warned us about makes it hurt all the more. They said that Big Ben did more harm than good and that the lack of a rushing game would come back to bite us. What just happened against Cincy? Ben threw two costly interceptions while the rushing attack garnered only 45 yards–rookie running back Najee Harris had 40 of them on 14 carries.
If those performances won’t even top the Bengals at home, how can the Steelers community have any faith in the team this season? Something needs to change, and fast. If not, then Pittsburgh may see a tier of mediocrity that they haven’t encountered in a long time.