“We Run The North” has been a popular slogan for the Steelers and their fans in recent years (and it’s not a bad name for a Behind the Steel Curtain podcast); it’s something they shout (or buy t-shirts with that saying on it) whenever the team wins the AFC North championship (four times since 2014, believe it or not).
That’s officially not going to happen in 2022. Nope, instead, the Steelers, 6-8, will be lucky if they finish with their 19th-straight non-losing season. They’ll be even luckier to sneak into the postseason as the sixth or, more realistically, the seventh seed in the AFC.
Not only have the Steelers officially been eliminated from the possibility of winning the AFC North, but they’re currently in last place in the division. With a 1-3 record within the division and two more games to play, the best the Steelers can do in 2022 is buy a t-shirt that says, “We Ain’t Got No Beef With The North.” If they finish at 1-5, that t-shirt might read, “Look, Just Take Whatever Want, North. We Don’t Want Any Trouble.”
To say that the AFC North has kept the Steelers on their heels in 2022 would be an understatement. In fact, if not for a fluke or two that helped them defeat the AFC Champion Bengals in Week 1, Pittsburgh would be 0-4 in the division and in serious danger of getting swept by all three teams.
But at least the Steelers know how to run the South, as in the NFC South Division, one that they just completed a sweep of, thanks to a 24-16 victory over the Panthers at Bank Of America Stadium last Sunday.
After Pittsburgh upset the Buccaneers, the class of the division at 6-8, at Acrisure Stadium on October 16, I figured the annual “Mike Tomlin Loss” would be the ultimate payback, and that it would rise from a team from the NFC South.
Instead, the Steelers handled the Saints, currently tied for second place in the NFC South at 5-9, in a 20-10 win at Acrisure Stadium on November 13.
Pittsburgh did the same three weeks later in a 19-16 victory over the Falcons, currently tied for second place in the NFC South at 5-9, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 4.
Throw in the dominant performance over the Panthers, currently tied for second place in the NFC South at 5-9, and the Steelers should be named honorary champions of that division.
The Steelers ran the ball really well against the NFC South in 2022, particularly against the last three opponents. They also never turned the football over one time on offense.
The defense never allowed any NFC South opponent to score more than 18 points (the 18 was by the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers and their highly potent attack—naturally).
Obviously, the NFC South is having a bad hair year, and it’s likely not going to look pretty when the eventual champion leaves the house for the postseason ball.
But the Steelers sure did look cool and sexy whenever they hung out with those cats (and pirates, birds and religious figures).
It’s too bad Pittsburgh didn’t have similar success against the AFC East. Instead, the Steelers were swept right out of that division in 2022. I don’t know about you, but I’d trade a victory over Tom Brady for one over Zach Wilson any day of the week. In fact, I’d trade a sweep of the NFC South for a sweep of the AFC East.
Believe it or not, even at 6-8, the Steelers chances of making the playoffs would be significantly better with three weeks to go.
The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers likely won’t have a memorable finish to their season, but at least they knew how to run the NFC South.