Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
After Week 7, being two games behind the division leader is tough, let alone two games below .500. It's a make-or-break week for the Steelers in biggest non-playoff road game yet.
It's got all the makings of one of those cheesy feel-good movies. The main difference is usually the heroes in those kinds of movies are on hot streaks of some kind, confidence is high and all the life lessons they learned before the third act are starting to come to life.
The Steelers begin a critical week of practice staring the very real possibility they could amass the worst season under head coach Mike Tomlin, the worst season with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the worst season in nearly a decade.
The 6-10 Steelers in 2003 showed the same signs of defensive and road futility, going 2-6 with wins only over teams who were .500 (Cincinnati) or worse (Cleveland).
Perhaps worse is the fear they could find themselves at the bottom of the AFC North sooner rather than later. Cleveland finally managed to put together four quarters of football, winning its first game in over the Bengals in Week 6. While the Bengals defense is not close to resembling what it was in 2011, a whipping like that on the road is just the kind of thing that will fire a team up.
Especially when their next game is a similar do-or-die situation at home on prime time.
The Steelers sure could use one of those kinds of games right now.
As it is, they'll come home to take on Washington (and the electrifying Robert Griffin III) in Week 8 before hitting the road again in Week 9 against the Giants. They'll be favored in no more but one of those games.
So if this really is a movie about the comeback group of can-dos, it start this week in practice. The way fans speak of things in the NFL is far more absolute and black-and white than being 2-3 despite losing two games on the final play and having held leads in every fourth quarter this season. It hasn't been an issue of competition - which lays in stark contrast to the 2003 team, who lost by more than one possession five times. It's been an issue of completion.
They must prepare to complete this week. It's a winnable game, and it's very likely any success movie about this team written in the future could start building to that great finish by conquering the road antagonist in Week 7.