On Sunday morning, the Steelers were 7-4. They had two home games just four days apart against teams that entered the contests with identical 2-10 records.
The Steelers lost both games.
As noted in the Amazon postgame show, the Steelers became the first team in league history with a record above .500 to lose consecutive games to teams at least eight games under .500. While the chances of achieving such a feat undoubtedly don’t come up often, the Steelers found a way to make it happen.
What makes the historic losses even more surprising is the fact that both happened in Pittsburgh.
The full ramifications will not be known until the next four games are played. Maybe they can turn things around and still make the postseason. Or maybe they’re mentally broken after hitting a clear shot to move to 9-4. Instead, they’re 7-6, their starting quarterback still injured, and find themselves in a group of teams vying for the three-card spots in a wide-open AFC.
They face the Colts, Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens to finish the season. They have proven under coach Mike Tomlin that they have the ability to find a way to fight through any and all adversity and come out with at least a winning record. Maybe they will do it again, winning two of their last four games. Maybe 9-8 would be good enough to make the playoffs.
Or perhaps the events of Sunday and Thursday are evidence that the magic is gone and they will not be able to regain it over the next month. They have a few extra days to prepare for the visit to Indy. The Colts, along with every other team the Steelers face, will be playing for something — unless the Ravens somehow hold down the No. 1 seed by Week 17 and are benched for the final game, as they did in 2019.
Regardless, back-to-back home losses to teams in the midst of lost seasons provide no reason for unbridled optimism in Pittsburgh. It’s going to be a grind. It will be a battle. And if the last two games are anything to go by, it’s also likely to be an ugly, nasty mess.
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