Photo via Steelers.com
By Hombre de Acero
Watching the Steelers win over the Baltimore Ravens was watching a legend in the making. The victory at Heinz Field clinched yet another AFC North title for Pittsburgh, but hold off on breaking out the celebratory kielbasa and Iron City Beer (yes, I’m serious about the latter one) as the New England Patriots are coming to town. But before we can see if the Steelers can corral the elephant in the room, this corner of Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.
1. While Pittsburgh prevailed against the Ravens, the Steelers defense looked like it sorely missed Ryan Shazier at several points. Yet, for as badly as they played overall, the Steelers defense stopped the Ravens cold on 3 of 4 fourth quarter possessions.
Do you think that Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler will be able to coax enough consistency out of this defense for the Steelers to be competitive against New England? Justify your answer.
2. Surprise, Surprise! The Patriots lost to Miami on Monday Night Football. Do you think this loss unmasks a vulnerability or do you fear that it will only serve to strengthen New England’s resolve?
3. After his first stint at returning kicks, Mike Tomlin indicated that Martavis Bryant would get more chances to do so. Against the Bengals, Bryant did it again and had a touchdown called back on a penalty.
Yet, against the Ravens, Bryant only narrowly avoided disaster. When asked about it, Mike Tomlin responded this way:
Do you think that our esteemed head coach is guilty of, as we would say in Spanish double discurso (speaking out of both sides of one mouth.)
4. Hombre asked me to include a question based on the idea of rituals. Players tend to be quite superstitious, but they have nothing on the fans. I mentioned several weeks ago the Steelers T-shirt I wore for the Titans game, and was advised not to wash it. Well, I didn’t wash it, but I didn’t remember to wear it for the next few games either. (Generally I watch the games in whatever I have on at the moment, which is usually church clothes…) You all might note that the only game the Steelers have won by a comfortable margin is the Titans game…
Hombre mentioned the following:
The Steelers are 11-2 when he watches on tape delay (even if the delay is only via pausing the game for a handful of minutes). His concern is this:
“Although no one’s mentioned it, my guess is the locals will suggest we get together to watch the game, which would mean no tape delay!”
These sorts of decisions aren’t easy. I was quite concerned last Saturday because I needed to dust underneath the Steelers nutcracker which overlooks the computer screen where I watch, and I was afraid I wouldn’t get it back in the exact same position.
What about you all? Do you have rituals that you believe, in your heart of hearts, can influence the course of a Steelers game, for good or ill?
5. Sometimes in the present it becomes too easy to forget the past. The Pittsburgh Steelers once actually owned Bill Belichick, albeit a long time ago. Recent, Steelers history against the Patriots has been fraught with nothing but frustration for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have won 3 times against Belichick 2.0, have beaten Belichick-Brady twice with only one win coming in the Mike Tomlin era and the other coming when Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie.
The Steelers average margin of loss to the Patriots has been by 13.5 points, or just shy of two touchdowns (although that margin “improves” to 9.6 at Heinz Field).
What, if anything, makes you think that this time, things will finally be different?
There you go folks.