Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion
A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.
All of a sudden, they’re unstoppable.
Seemingly ready to be left in the dust a little more than a month ago, the Steelers’ resurrection reached a resounding crescendo via Thursday night’s 52-21 ambush of the Panthers.
Carolina is a contending-caliber team, and yet the Steelers made the Panthers look amateurish.
And they had fun doing it.
“We’re having a blast,” outside linebacker T.J. Watt gushed late Thursday night. “We’re having a great time out here.”
Added quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: “I don’t know that I’ve had that much fun playing football in a while.”
The last time Heinz Field had staged a night game, back on Sept. 30 against the Ravens, the Steelers got pushed around on both sides of the ball, they got physically dominated in a 26-14 loss that dropped them to 1-2-1.
They haven’t lost since.
A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate.
The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.
And on special teams, even Chris Boswell has started making kicks again (hitting all seven of his extra points and a 50-yard field goal in the Carolina game was a significant step forward).
The perception of the Steelers as they approach mid-November doesn’t remotely resemble what it had been at the end of September.
They still shouldn’t be perceived as the equal of the Patriots or the Chiefs, as the team to beat in the AFC.
But it’s no longer inconceivable that we might soon be having that conversation.
The Steelers, after further review, are proving more than capable.
They’re also becoming more confident with each successive victory in a winning streak that’s now reached an attention-getting five consecutive games.
It’s either that, or that they’re winning now because of the confidence they somehow never lost while stumbling through the season’s opening month.
“I think it’s a bit of both,” guard David DeCastro suggested. “But I think we’re building confidence.
“I think you can see it in our play, for sure.”
Roethlisberger has maintained throughout that this Steelers team had such a streak in them this season, even when they couldn’t beat Cleveland.
Credit the Steelers for remembering the regular season is a 16-game endeavor.
Credit the Steelers for, among other things, maintaining their perspective.
“Part of it is because I’ve been here long enough, I’ve been around some teams where we struggled at times and where we’ve been great at times,” Roethlisberger explained. “You have a feel, right?
“I think our team, the core group of guys are veteran enough that you kind of let some of those early struggles roll off your back. You know it’s early. You know you’ve been there before.”
There’s a lesson in there somewhere about how wrong you can be when you rush to judgment.
“For us it was like, ‘Listen, we know what we’re capable of, we know our potential,’” Roethlisberger continued. “It was more about us reaching deeper and bringing that potential out, which I think we’ve done, than it was, ‘What are we going to do now?’”
And now, suddenly, the question has become what might they be capable of next?
The really fun part, in retrospect, might be just getting started.