ESPN's Chris Berman is fond of saying "nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills." Boomer often pulls that phrase out when his beloved Bills are facing some sort of adversity.
I don't think he's ever used that phrase in describing the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the franchise has certainly faced its share of obstacles over the last half decade-- the 6th seed in the playoffs in '05, a historically tough schedule in '08, and no Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games in '10--and has overcome them to the tune of three Super Bowl appearances and two World titles.
After four games, it may not be time to circle the wagons, but I thinks it's safe to say the Pittsburgh Steelers have been struggling a bit in the early portion of the 2011 season. They sit at 2-2, and that by itself isn't necessarily a problem. Sometimes, teams go 2-2. Hell, most teams, the Steelers included, will take a 2-2 start to the year most seasons.
However, there are various ways to get to 2-2, and the path that Pittsburgh has taken has left the fans a bit uneasy.
We all know the problems that the Steelers have dealt with through four games this season so I won't rehash them here, but the latest obstacle for the team is James Harrison's broken orbital bone that will require surgery and keep him out of action for perhaps as long as a month, if not even longer.
What the team needs now is a signature win. It's amazing what one thorough victory can do for the psyche of not only the team, but the fans, as well.
Sure, there was the 24-0 blow-out of the Seahawks at Heinz Field a couple of weeks ago, but even that seemed to be lacking something. In fact, there was a rather contentious post on BTSC after that Seahawks' game with the main topic of discussion centering around the team's inability to score even more points against Seattle.
Some have said that the team has lacked intensity and focus over the first month of the season. I'm not sure if I buy that. I mean, how can you really measure intensity? And it's easy to say a team lacked focus after a loss.
Perhaps, it just seems like there's a lack of intensity to the start of the season because the Steelers have played three of their first four games on the road. The early portion of the team's schedule is a variable that I haven't heard talked about much. Steeler Nation really hasn't had much of a chance to shine and cheer on our favorite team at Heinz Field. Maybe what the team really needs is some nice home-cooking, and the right team to feast on.
It might seem a bit odd to say that the Tennessee Titans, a surprising 3-1 to start the season, are a prime opponent to cure what ails the Steelers, but I've watched a lot of football in my day and have seen this same scenario play-out time and time again. The Titans are surprising people, and they will no doubt come to Heinz Field feeling pretty good about themselves. Nobody expected them to get off to this kind of start, not with a new head coach, not with Matt Hasselbeck as their quarterback. Yet, here they are at 3-1, ready to make a name for themselves by kicking a juggernaut when it's down.
The Steelers are a veteran team that is struggling to find answers and just looking for someone to take its frustrations out on. With a key player like Harrison out for Sunday, Pittsburgh surely won't be taking anything for granted, and I doubt they'll be lacking in focus or intensity.
Here we are in October, and the 2010 AFC Champs have yet to have their 2011 coming-out party. It's time they show the world what they're truly made of.
The Steelers can't control what happened in the first four games. The only thing they can control is how they play this Sunday at Heinz Field.
The Tennessee Titans might be in the wrong place at the wrong time.