Last season Mike Tomlin drove his Pittsburgh Steelers side to a strong 12-4 regular season run before they lost out to the Cleveland Browns in the wild card playoffs, and this time around, things have been very subdued for the Heinz Field side.
Losses to the Las Vegas Raiders, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Green Bay Packers left them 1-3 before four wins got their season somewhat back on the road, and in the lead up to their home field clash with the Detroit Lions, things were seemingly going in the right direction.
That game ended in the rarest of NFL results, a tie, and that tie was followed by a narrow defeat to the Los Angeles Chargers and indeed, the Pittsburgh Steelers betting odds today reflect their sporadic form; they are currently (+4000) to win the Super Bowl and a somewhat weak (+240) for the divisional title.
Returning to the subject of that tie, amazing it was something that apparently confused a great many people, including players, who didn’t know what such a result was possible. Now a tie is a very rare bird in NFL circles; as a guide, this latest tie was only the second the Steelers have been involved in since 2002.
Of those who were seemingly, genuinely confused by the possibility of a draw, rookie running back Najee Harris could perhaps be cut some slack. The youngster stated after the 16-16 result;
“I didn’t even know you could tie in the NFL. In my mind, I was sitting on the bench saying, ‘I’ve got another quarter to go. But someone came to me and said, ‘that’s it.’ I’ve never had a tie in my life before.”
The Lions would have been grateful for this unforeseen situation; a tie helpfully brings an end to their horrendous 14 game losing streak that straddles last season and this.
Others perturbed by the tie included Pittsburgh’s defensive lineman Cam Heyward, who commented;
“Ties suck, I know it’s a tie, but if it’s not a win, I don’t think you can really hang your hat on that.”
Fellow linebacker Joe Schobert was singing from the same song sheet, stating;
“A tie in the NFL always feels like a loss when you get to the locker room because you’re not adding one to the win column.
“It’s a half-game. It might make a difference in the end. To let it slip away when you’re that close definitely hurts.”
The main reason the tie will have hurt the Steelers is the fact that they should have sewn up the game long before it got anywhere near being this tight. They fumbled twice in overtime, offering the Lions hope.
Unsurprisingly the Lions’ players seemed less bothered by the tie and were no doubt hoping that bringing an end to their lengthy losing run could signal a change in fortunes. Newsflash, it didn’t.
The Lions followed up with a 10-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns and a 16-14 defeat to the Chicago Bears. Two very close encounters that probably left coach Dan Campbell longing for another tie.