The Steelers 15-10 victory over the Browns at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium last Sunday afternoon reversed a bit of the damage done when the team lost some games perhaps nobody expected it would over the first month, including uninspiring home defeats at the hands of the Raiders and Bengals in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively.
The win over Cleveland was the Steelers’ third straight and improved their record from an alarming 1-3 to an encouraging 4-3; it really does feel like momentum is back on Pittsburgh’s side. The team has found its footing after a rough start. With two “lesser” opponents coming to Heinz Field over the next two weeks, including the Bears this Monday night and the lowly Lions the following Sunday, the Steelers have an excellent opportunity in front of them to really put themselves into contention after nine games.
But that’s all it is, an opportunity.
The Steelers cannot let this chance slip through their fingers. Anything less than a fifth-straight victory and a 6-3 mark heading into the final eight games would be a major flub.
As you know, the Steelers often defeat teams they should lose to and lose to teams they should defeat. This is really more of an NFL thing than it is a Steelers character flaw, but people only seem to look at Pittsburgh when the negative side of the league’s weekly parity party is debated.
But that’s neither here nor there.
The bottom line is the Steelers must not add another chapter to this ongoing (if mostly false) narrative.
If Pittsburgh does win its next two games, guess what? The fun will have only just begun. A 6-3 record guarantees nothing. It simply puts the Steelers in a more favorable position.
There will still be four games left to play in the AFC North over the final two months. Not only that but there are also dates against the Chargers, Titans and Chiefs circled on the calendar.
That's going to be a rough stretch, those final eight games, and it’s going to be an even tougher journey if the Steelers are no better than 5-4 when they start it.
It’s great that the Steelers survived their depressing start. It’s awesome that they’ve answered the bell after a few knockdowns in the earlier rounds. But this is no time to take a breather. This is no time to clinch and hold on for a few rounds.
The Steelers MUST keep fighting. It might be harder for them to get up for these next two games than it’s going to be later in the year when the likes of the Ravens and Bengals are on their agenda, but they have to treat both Chicago and Detroit like the bums Rocky Balboa knocked out in the introductory montage in Rocky III.
Do the Steelers have the talent to show up and blow out teams like the Bears and Lions? They better have that kind of talent. Otherwise, their future opponents might look at them as one of those “lesser” teams next up on their schedule.