The Steelers got a very refreshing win in Carolina last weekend, but let’s be sure to take the right things away from it.
As the Steelers entered Carolina this last Sunday, I held no confidence in their ability to get the win, especially with the game following their inexcusable loss to Baltimore. But hey, I’ve been wrong before.
Pittsburgh has won its third game in four weeks after beating the Panthers 24-16 on the road, and there wasn’t much about the performance that felt worthy of criticism. As a Steelers diehard, words cannot describe how happy I am to be able to say that.
However, while I am very pleased with the victory, I feel that there are many who have failed to look at it correctly. As cryptic as it may sound, we as Steelers fans can be pleased with the win, but we should not celebrate it.
For starters, let’s take a second to read the room: the Steelers are now 6-8 on the season and their only realistic path to a non-losing record requires winning out. With that said, unless you are someone who wants Pittsburgh to tank for better placement in the draft, it would be ridiculous for me to expect you to not cherish the final from Carolina.
But there is quite a difference between merely being happy that your team won and thinking that the win in question somehow validates your team. Unfortunately, there are many yinzers out there who are guilty of the latter.
In what ways have Steelers fans forgotten the team’s place?
Here is just one example of a right-and-wrong when it comes to taking in the victory: it’s okay to appreciate the Steelers winning despite Kenny Pickett’s absence, but it’s not okay to believe that Mitch Trubisky has proven himself as some sort of stud (this mistake has been made by not only Steelers fans, but also by the organization’s own social media accounts). Taking one glance at his stats from the game will expose the stupidity of such a takeaway.
Another common sight is people failing to recognize the difference between gauging Pittsburgh’s skill set against the Panthers and gauging it against upcoming opponents.
Sure, the Steelers had one of their more balanced performances in a game where they were clearly the superior team, but their opponent was Carolina—a team that entered the matchup with an identical record while belonging to the league’s worst division. That makes the display mean very little when looking ahead to Baltimore and Cleveland, divisional foes that have already shown their ability to beat Pittsburgh (under rather ugly circumstances, might I add).
Even the Las Vegas Raiders, who the Steelers face on Christmas Eve, are difficult to promise success against, as they have found ways to win four of their last five games—and even the loss was by a single point following a blown lead.
There was a lot to smile about this last weekend, but when your team is 6-8 and has tougher competition on the horizon, the last thing you should do is get comfortable. That’s been the message up to this point and it hasn’t changed one bit.