Not Good Enough

Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

Jordan DeFigio, @fidgenewton

“We sucked,”  Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of their performance against the Baltimore Ravens yesterday. The Steelers won by the skin of their teeth, emerging (not unscathed, mind you) with a 19-14…erm, victory?

Whatever that was didn’t feel victorious. And Tomlin made that quite clear.

“We did enough to win, but that’s all. It was really junior varsity to be quite honest with you. And it was in all three phases.”

No effective run game, dropped passes, lack of significant plays on special teams, turnovers on punt returns, big plays given up on defense – just not good enough. A win is a win, but this was not one to celebrate.

“I don’t want to make excuses, we just weren’t good,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.

Not “we weren’t good enough,” or “we struggled to get going,” but, “we just weren’t good.”


Roethlisberger took the brunt of the blame, saying “It starts with me, this is a mental game and this has been a very mentally challenging and draining week. But at the end of the day, we need to step on the football field and play good football when it’s time.”

And play good football, they did not.

Aside from an early fumble recovery and a pick-six from Joe Haden, the defense looked dazed.

Aside from the touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to JuJu Smith-Schuster, the offense looked overwhelmed.

Chris Boswell was 2/2 on field goal attempts, but another botched extra point attempt? What is going on?

Red zone woes, a season-low 19 points, big yardage plays against a depleted Ravens offense – all capped off by a non-contact ACL injury to Bud Dupree that will have him sidelined for the rest of the season. With Devin Bush having suffered the same injury, the Steelers’ weakest position just got weaker.

So where does all this leave a Pittsburgh team that has continued to lose players to injury, and despite shoddy on-field performances, continued to win?

Only five games remain in the regular season, and it will be a fight to the finish for the Steelers. In just four days, they’ll take on the Washington Football Team for yet another out-of-the-box kickoff time; the game is slated for 5:00PM EST on Monday, December 7th. Washington, who has won their last two games, dominated the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Something the Steelers can’t say for themselves. They’re coming off a short week, another weird week, and playing a team that is a lot better than their 4-7 record might imply. If Maurkice Pouncey and Chuks Okorafor remain sidelined, the offensive line will be in for a long game protecting Roethlisberger from rookie Chase Young.

Week 14 will bring a Sunday Night Football rematch from just about a year ago against the 8-3 Buffalo Bills, who are looking to move even closer to clinching the AFC East. The team will go on to play the 2-8-1 Cincinnati Bengals (sans rookie phenom Joe Burrow), the 7-4 Indianapolis Colts, and they’ll finish up the season in Cleveland against the 8-3 Cleveland Browns, who are still in the hunt for the division title.

The Steelers have been at the center of intense scrutiny over the ease of their schedule and their shaky play, and after yesterday, well, they deserve it. They’ve struggled, battled, played down, fought back, and have somehow found a way to remain undefeated. And they’ve lost key players along the way.

The Steelers are 11-0. No one is happy about number eleven.

The only number they should care about is winning Lombardi number seven. And good teams, despite their circumstances, find a way to win – and win it all.

It has yet to be seen whether they have the grit and persistence to make it there.


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