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Ranking the Steelers 2020 Games: #14 and #13

Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press

Ranking the Steelers 2020 Games: #14 and #13

Over the next several weeks, I will be ranking the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 regular season games from 16 down to 1.

We move onto numbers 14 and 13. The first listed may come as a surprise because it resulted in a win, but there was very little to cheer about after the Steelers week nine matchup.

 

#14. Week 9 at The Dallas Cowboys

Why is a Steelers win ranked worse than a loss against the Buffalo Bills? This game between “America’s Team” and “The World’s Team” was not very indicative of those two nicknames. The Cowboys came in at a measly 2-6 and the Steelers at 7-0, but not with many convincing wins to show for the undefeated record.

The Steelers season had many twists and turns. They were Super Bowl contenders in the eyes of many, but injuries and many other factors led to a disappointing end to the season. What is tough to think about with this game is none of the injuries had happened yet and the Cowboys were, quite honestly, abysmal.

A positive to take out of the game was Ben Roethlisberger‘s near flawless game. However, when your quarterback is 38 years old and you are considered the best team in football against a depleted team, he should not have to put the team on his back to win a football game. James Conner led the team with 22 rushing yards and the Steelers trailed 19-9 at the end of the third quarter.

This was what some Steelers fans saw coming given Mike Tomlin‘s reputation of playing opponents as a heavy favorite on the road. The Steelers seemed like anything but that. A dominant Steelers defense only sacked Garrett Gilbert twice in his first career start while he threw for 243 yards and a touchdown.

It almost seemed like the Steelers did not want to play football this week. The struggle of running the ball almost seemed like it began during this game. Benny Snell Jr. had three carries for one yard and Anthony McFarland Jr. “contributed” three carries for seven yards.

It was an all around ugly game. The Steelers did not deserve to win and the lack of discipline from the Cowboys hurt them committing seven penalties for 70 yards. The Cowboys rushed for 144 yards and without a 4th quarter rally from the Steelers, this game may have ended up as #16 on this list.

 

#13. Week 14 at the Buffalo Bills

This game was not as lopsided as one may think, although I personally expected the Steelers to lose to the Bills here for the second year in a row. Roethlisberger’s errant pass and pick-6 at the end of the first half changed the course of this game completely. The Steelers were winning 7-3 before Taron Johnson took back a Roethlisberger pass for a touchdown with less than a minute left in the first half. Roethlisberger also only averaged 5.1 yards per completion, which is not a recipe for success in today’s NFL.

But, again, it is impossible to ignore the Steelers lack of ability to run the football. A leading rusher in Conner had a whopping 18 yards on the ground. It is important to note that the lack of running game was the offensive line’s fault just as much, if not more, than the running backs. Bottom line is that it was not good in a majority of the Steelers games this season and here is another prime example.

The most disappointing part of this game was that the Bills did not have an overwhelmingly impressive performance. Josh Allen only threw for 238 yards and the rushing attack barely cracked 100 yards. It was a very winnable matchup. The dominance of Stefon Diggs was the difference. The Bills wide receiver caught 10 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. He overtook the Steelers secondary. Joe Haden being inactive for this game was extremely detrimental to the Steelers defense.

No one likes a loss. That is why this game is in the top five worst games this season. But, overall, if Roethlisberger does not throw that interception and the Bills don’t outscore the Steelers 14-0 in the third quarter, there may have been a very different outcome.

 

How did you feel about these two games, #SteelerNation? Let us know in the comments below!

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