What's Next in This Surreal Season for the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Even a member of the Steelers' ownership group, who works in Hollywood, says the script the team is writing is unbelievable.
photos by Pittsburgh Steelers/Karl Roser
The reaction from Landry Jones was as priceless as what inspired it had been surreal.
“I still can’t believe I got in the game,” Jones gushed after a performance on Sunday against Arizona that was a mere two full seasons and five games in the making.
I can’t believe it, either.
And I absolutely still can’t fathom Jones going 8-for-12 passing for 168 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 149.3, and looking like he belonged on an NFL field the entire time while doing it.
That’s as inexplicable as the Steelers’ 4-2 record through six games, three-plus of which have been played without Big Ben.
The loss of Ben Roethlisberger for any significant stretch ought to have been crippling enough on its own.
But for this team this season, the loss of the franchise QB was merely more of the same in a sequence of events that should have been staggering and yet somehow just haven’t mattered.
- Offensive tackle Mike Adams, the No. 1 backup at left and right tackle, began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list and still hasn’t made it back onto the field.
- No. 2 pick Senquez Golson, a cornerback drafted to help a secondary in drastic need of an upgrade, began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list and has since undergone surgery and is done for the season.
- Kicker Shaun Suisham was lost for the season making a tackle on a kickoff in a preseason game in Canton, Ohio.
- All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey got hurt in a preseason game against Green Bay and still hasn’t made it back onto the field and might not all season.
- Back-up Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was lost for the season, also in the pre-season, against Green Bay.
- Replacement Kicker Garrett Hartley was injured during a preseason game in Buffalo.
- Wide receiver Martavis Bryant was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
- Running back Le’Veon Bell missed the first two games of the regular season while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.
- Safety Shamarko Thomas, who had been groomed to replace Troy Polamalu, lost his starting job prior to the regular-season opener at New England and has since been relegated almost exclusively to special teams.
- Cornerback Ross Cockrell, who was picked up after Buffalo had cut him, played the third cornerback role against San Francisco. Cockrell is still playing it while Brandon Boykin, a cornerback the Steelers traded for to help a secondary still in drastic need of an upgrade after Golson got hurt, plays special teams.
- Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier sat out the St. Louis game with a shoulder injury, which began a streak of four consecutive missed starts for Shazier, who has played in 11 games and missed 11 games since being drafted No. 1 last season.
- Roethlisberger got hurt in St. Louis.
- Replacement kicker No. 2, Josh Scobee, who had missed two field goals in the opener at New England, was released after missing two more against Baltimore, either one of which probably would have been decisive in what ultimately became a loss in overtime.
And then there was last Sunday against Arizona:
- The Steelers started without safety Will Allen (who had taken over for Thomas), Shazier and outside linebacker Jarvis Jones on defense, and lost replacement QB Mike Vick for the game and offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum for the season.
- They finished with U.S. Army Afghanistan veteran Alejandro Villanueva at left tackle, with Robert Golden at safety for Allen (Golden’s first NFL start in his 53rd NFL game), with replacement kicker No. 3 Chris Boswell banging four field goals (47, 48, 51 and 28 yards), and with Jones making his long-awaited and never-anticipated-by-anyone, NFL debut.
- And they beat an explosive Cardinals team that came in as perceived as one of the best in the league, 25-13.
You couldn’t make a movie based on all of this stuff because even Steelers ownership group member and Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull wouldn’t consider the script to be believable.
“It is unbelievable,” Jones agreed.
That about sums things up heading into Kansas City.