Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!
A chant heard not just around the 412 area, but Steeler Nation. For the first time in Pittsburgh’s franchise, they are undefeated through their first 8 games of the NFL season.
Give credit where credit is due. This team should have been praised last year, but due to the biased NFL media, Pittsburgh was looked at as a lucky 8-8.
There is not one NFL team that would go 8-8 in a season when the team is bouncing back and forth between a second and third-string quarterback.
Just look at the 2020 Dallas Cowboys. Mike Tomlin coached a team that was one Week 15 Sunday Night Football win away from the postseason.
The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers suffered losses to the San Francisco 49er’s (eventual NFC Champions) by 4 points, Seattle Seahawks (11-5) by 4 points, and the Baltimore Ravens (14-2) by 3 points in OT. You are either A) a moron B) on drugs or C) both if you think Ben Roethlisberger does not make a 5-point difference. A Hall of Fame QB adds a significant improvement to an otherwise playoff team.
The standard is the standard in Pittsburgh, and that standard is a Super Bowl. Pittsburgh is not like Cleveland, Detroit or Philadelphia that would consider a playoff appearance successful. The Steelers have not had a losing season since 2003; 17 years of pure dominance in arguably the best division in football over that span.
The argument will be that Pittsburgh hasn’t achieved its standard in 11 years. Many people think the Steelers underachieved during the “Killer B’s” era, and that is true. However, the failure was necessary for both Roethlisberger and Tomlin.
The constant playoff woes and locker room drama have molded the two future Hall of Famers. This QB/coach duo clearly has a newfound appreciation for the player and culture relationship.
It takes more than talent to win the Super Bowl, and Pittsburgh understands that. The relationship in the locker room and off the field goes far beyond on-field production.
Although in Pittsburgh, grizzled veterans load the roster with the likes of Big Ben, Cam Hayward, Joe Haden, Maurkice Pouncey, Stephon Tuitt and David DeCastro. The roster also consists of loaded young talent with Juju Smith Schuster, James Conner, T.J Watt, Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Not only do these players have a great relationship off the field, but they can perform together as well. Pittsburgh leads the league in crucial statistical categories.
The defense has a sack in 65 straight games, which is three short of the NFL record. The defense is currently the fourth best rushing defense, third passing defense and fourth overall. They also lead the league in sacks, yards allowed after the catch and second in takeaways.
As for the offense, they rank third in third-down conversions, ninth in red-zone TD percentage and sixth in overall team offense. They are top 10 in both passing and rushing touchdowns. The offense has only gained three significant pieces since last season, Ben Roethlisberger, Eric Ebron and Chase Claypool.
This only emphasizes the skill of Pittsburgh’s front office. The Steeler’s ability to draft skill-position players is unparalleled. They traded their first-round pick for Fitzpatrick and drafted Claypool in the second round. Both are key pieces for the team’s success this year.
“Pittsburgh’s future is very bright short-term,” Brian Taylor, IUP Alumnus of ‘88, said about Pittsburgh’s future. “Their window is closing to bring home another championship. It is time to show New England where the real ‘City of Champions’ is.”
Despite being a passionate Browns fan on WIUP-FM’s “Sports Talk Live,” Kody Hefner (senior, business) loved the story about Art Rooney’s rejection of the term “America’s Team.”
“When I heard the story of the chief, Art Rooney, turning down the nickname ‘America’s Team,’ I knew the culture in Pittsburgh is close-knit,” he said. “It is a team that is a little more than a team. They set the culture throughout a city, although they will take a loss Week 17 against Baker Mayfield.”
Pittsburgh ranks among the league’s best. With Tom Brady out of the AFC, Mike Tomlin’s kryptonite is no longer an immediate threat. Pittsburgh has shown to have Lamar Jackson’s number.
As for the defending Super Bowl champions, Kansas City, Pittsburgh is 7-3 in the Big Ben era, including a playoff victory the last time Pittsburgh made it to the AFC Championship. Threats are minimal, and the writing’s on the wall. The Steel Curtain will continue to make a statement, the Steel City is BACK.
Articles about the Steelers will be coming more often from this column, as I personally was born and raised in Pittsburgh and even had to go home to write this. It will not be full of hot takes or bias. That is because the Steelers are going undefeated and winning the Super Bowl. Big Ben will win Super Bowl MVP and ride his motorcycle helmetless into the sunset.
So sit down, shut up, and drink an Iron City because the stairway to seven starts with 7.