I take pride in myself as a sports writer/blogger/critic/so on for multiple reasons, but a prominent one is my ability to develop a variety of both original and interesting topics.
However, throughout the time I’ve spent writing for Still Curtain this season, I’ve found that I trip on the same subject matter every week, and that is the inconsistency of the 2023-24 Steelers. Unfortunately, that prompt has bled into yet another week—but this time, it has done so to an unforgivable degree.
Last Thursday night, the Steelers hosted the New England Patriots for what should’ve been an easy win. For those who are not aware, the Pats entered the game 2-10 and had failed to hit 10 points in any of their last three games (the most recent of which saw them fail to score at all). Those inferiorities all came crashing down once they hit the Steel City, though.
The Patriots struck first with an Ezekiel Elliott touchdown catch before the Steelers clapped back with a 56-yard field goal from Chris Boswell; after that, things got ugly and fast, as the Pats went on to have the most offensively dominant half of their season so far. In short, yinzers everywhere were stunned beyond words as they headed into the final few minutes of the second quarter down 21-3.
Despite both the offense chipping away at the frightening deficit through a pair of scores (with the latter including a two-point conversion) and the defense refusing to give up another point for the remainder of the night, it was too little too late as Pittsburgh fell by a final score of 21-18.
The defeat brings the Steelers down to 7-6 on the year and puts their positive record in immediate jeopardy. This is typically something that would send me into a panic, but in all honesty, I don’t know if I could ever care less about that than I do right now. I say this because my confidence in Pittsburgh’s season being beyond saving is the highest it’s been in a while, and how could it not be?
Simply for the sake of refreshing everyone’s memory, I would like to bring forth the note Pittsburgh came into Week 14 on: A 24-10 loss dealt by an Arizona Cardinals team that, similarly to New England, had just two wins to its name leading up to that point.
But, just in case there are some of you out there who have still not quite grasped the severity of this situation, allow me to place it under a more comparative lens.
These Steelers' losses spawn concerns much larger than Instagram memes
For starters, no team wants to lose back-to-back games, but that is simply scraping the tip of the iceberg when analyzing what exactly it is that Pittsburgh has done. Pitt lost back-to-back home games, with both prevailing opponents sitting amongst the worst in the NFL. On top of that stuff, the Steelers are now out of the current AFC playoff picture as a result of the losses, and their final four battles will make it objectively difficult for such a tumble to be undone.
If you thought that bottom-dwelling teams were tough, just wait until you see the fellas that are yet to come. The first name on Pittsburgh's agenda is Indianapolis, followed by Cincinnati, Seattle and Baltimore, in that order.
Unlike Arizona and New England, not only do each of those powers have more than three wins today, but three of them also have winning records (the only exception being 6-7 Seahawks). To make matters worse, three of the four will be at home when facing Pittsburgh, and the fact that half are divisional rivals only adds to the mayhem.
And no, I’m not going to impulsively take the Steelers to beat the Bengals and Ravens simply because “tHeY wOn ThE FiRsT TiMe ThEy FaCeD oFf tHiS sEaSoN.” It was that exact logic that had me believing they could beat Cleveland a second time, and all that got me was another inexcusable loss (with rookie backup Dorian Thompson-Robinson as the Browns QB, no less).
The bottom line is that it has now become painfully clear that the Steelers are susceptible to falling apart against horrid opponents on what is at least a somewhat consistent basis. Considering who all still stands in their way, along with how being bad is the only consistent thing about them at this point, I have no reason to assume that they are a safe bet to make the playoffs this season, much less see any success in them. With that said: There's always next year, folks.