The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base can be a fickle bunch. Even when their favorite team was 6-0, there was skepticism among the black and gold following. Even after their win over the previously undefeated Tennessee Titans, many fans called the Steelers “lucky” to escape with a 27-24 win.
To those fans, the end result doesn’t matter.
However, after two straight games where they were forced to come from behind, Week 8 vs. the Baltimore Ravens and Week 9 vs. the Dallas Cowboys, fans are anything but certain about their favorite NFL franchise.
What would it take to raise the fan confidence? A dominant performance, and that is exactly what the Steelers delivered in Week 10 with a 36-10 win over the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. Combine that with another dominant defensive performance vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11, and the fans are feeling right.
But it was at this juncture in the season when things started to go off the rails. COVID-19 changed up the plans with the Steelers and Ravens in Week 12, and the Washington Football Team dealt the team their first loss of the season in Week 13. How did the Steelers finish off their third game in twelve days? A Sunday night loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 14. Week 15 had the Steelers staring at a “get right” game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, but what they got was a third straight loss as they were embarrassed on national television for the second straight week.
Week 16 saw the Steelers host the red-hot Indianapolis Colts, and when all seemed lost, the Steelers had a tremendous come from behind win to pull off the upset, snap their losing streak and clinch the AFC North division title since 2017. The next week, with the division locked up, the Steelers backups played valiantly, but lost to the Browns heading into the playoffs.
In the playoffs, the first such game for the Steelers since that 2017 season, the Steelers had another forgettable game. The 28-0 first quarter deficit was too much to overcome, and the season ended in embarrassing fashion.
How were the fans feeling about the team moving forward? Well, you can guess how they probably felt.
Here at SB Nation we poll fans every week in our SB Nation “Reacts” polls, and one of the questions asked is whether you have confidence in your team moving forward. As you can see, the confidence took another hard nose dive heading into the offseason.
If you want to know just how the fan confidence has changed since the end of the 2019 season, you can see the percentages below:
End of 2019: 59%
Pre NFL Free Agency: 72%
Post 2020 NFL Draft: 81%
Heading into Week 1: 90%
Heading into Week 2: 94%
Heading into Week 3: 87%
Heading into Week 4: 90%
Heading into Week 5: 83%
Heading into Week 6: 82%
Heading into Week 7: 97%
Heading into Week 8: 94%
Heading into Week 9: 98%
Heading into Week 10: 88%
Heading into Week 11: 95%
Heading into Week 12: 96%
Heading into Week 13: 97%
Heading into Week 14: 52%
Heading into Week 15: 24%
Heading into Week 16: 17%
Heading into Week 17: 56%
Heading into the Wild Card Round: 76%
Heading into the offseason: 14%
With the Steelers now entering an offseason where Ben Roethlisberger is rumored to be returning, Matt Canada is reportedly taking over at offensive coordinator and the team will be the epitome of cash strapped as fans down.
And rightfully so.
Have we seen the best of the Steelers under Mike Tomlin? Are darker days ahead? Only time will tell, but fans enter this uneasy offseason without much confidence.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for NFL Free Agency and the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.