The torment of watching the Steelers this year

Gerald Sensabaugh, Emmanuel Sanders, Eric Frampton

I am torn about this Steelers team. Are they a good team dealing with a lot of injuries and unable to get out of their own way or a bad team with some talent here and there? Some of both I would guess.

But the funny thing is, if they win out they are in the playoffs. And incredibly if they win out and the Ravens lose their last two games the Steelers win the division (according to this playoff scenario generator) and get a home playoff game. Much more likely is they travel to Denver in the playoffs and lose again (won’t that be fun!).

I almost wish they would just lose and put me out of my misery.

Of course, I don’t really wish for that, but will instead dream of getting healthy and hot at just the right time and making a run. Heck, a playoff win on the road would be a miracle at this point, even making the playoffs will be a challenge (they have lost four of thier last five) but they are at home against the Bengals and Browns.

It is easy to blame this painful season on injuries. They have had at least one of their best defenders out every game and frequently two or three. Today they were down to their 4th and 5th CBs I think.  The offensive line has been a mess, WRs and RBs have been hurt with regularity, and of course Ben missed some crucial games and has struggled in critical times upon return. But lots of teams are struggling with injuries. The last two weeks they lost to teams with significant injuries, so that is not much of an excuse.

What is really frustrating is just how they can’t seem to be consistent. The start slow today and then make some big plays, get back into it, and take the lead. Antonio Brown promptly fumbles a punt return when they very well could have sealed the game with points.  Brown then fails to field a punt and gives Dallas like 20 yards but the Steelers make it up on a pass play combined with a roughing the passer penalty … and the offensive line becomes a sieve and Ben is sacked twice forcing a punt. After remarkably holding the Dallas on a crucial defensive stand the Steelers get the ball first in overtime. Touchdown and they win and are looking good. Ben throws a pick and game over.

Game after game the Steelers struggled to close out games against poor teams losing to Oakland, Tennessee and San Diego and barely beating Philadelphia and Kansas City. When the defense plays well, the offense struggles when the offense get going the defense can’t stop anyone. It is a torment because they have some talent, when healthy, and they can look pretty good at times but you never feel like they can put a game away.  Somehow the whole is less than the parts.

My gut tells me this is a potentially dangerous but pretty mediocre team. After all, their best win is probably one at Cincinnati or against a decent Washington team at home. Wins against the Giants and Ravens don’t look all that impressive now that those teams are struggling. The funny thing is the Steelers were two late game field goals from being 7-1 in the first half of the season and a couple of last second wins against the Ravens and Chiefs from losing six games in a row after that.  If you have weak nerves, I don’t recommend watching the Steelers

So the season comes down to two divisional games. Beat the Bengals and the Browns and they are in the dance and maybe even with a chance to do something when they get there. But a loss to the Bengals will cement this as a bad team despite the talent on the roster.

What’s that they say? Hope springs eternal …

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. My experience includes: a decade of work in state government, president of a free market think tank, new media director for a winning US Senate campaign and ghost writer of both op-eds and books. I have a Masters degree in history and have taught at the college level.

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