The Pittsburgh Steelers finished the 2021 season with a 9-7-1 record, and were able to find a way to punch their ticket to the AFC Playoffs. That playoff stint was short-lived, as have been most trips to the playoffs in recent years, but when looking back at the season one aspect which deserves some attention is the Steelers’ record away from home.
The saying of ‘Home Sweet Home’ certainly applies to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the last five seasons, the Steelers have never had a losing record at Heinz Field, but away from home is a different story.
Take a look at the Home/Road splits in the last five seasons:
2021: 3-5 Away / 6-2-1 Home
2020: 5-3 Away / 7-1 Home
2019: 3-5 Away / 5-3 Home
2018: 4-3-1 Away / 5-3 Home
2017: 7-1 Away / 6-2 Home
Looking at the splits between home and away are simply superficial statistics. For instance, when you look at every season, you are looking at a different team, and different opponents. Teams will fluctuate with both overall success and roster, and the Steelers 2019 season is the perfect example of this. 2019 was the year Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the year with an elbow injury, which put both Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges into the lineup for the remainder of the season. Their overall production, or lack thereof, would skew the most basic statistics.
Let’s just take a look at the Steelers 2021 season, and who they played on the road:
There were absolutely no easy games on the road for the Steelers in 2021. Some might point to the Vikings game as the easiest of the bunch, but fans have to remember that was a Thursday Night Football game on the heals of a huge win over the Baltimore Ravens at home. That’s a tough ask for the Steelers to rebound off a huge divisional win and hit the road on a short week.
The fact remains, you could dig into statistics, injuries, rushing yards gained and surrendered and never find any real common denominator which points to the Steelers’ struggles on the road. Some might suggest all you can do is look forward and try to avoid a repeat of the 2021 road record.
So, let’s do that. Below are the Steelers’ 2022 road opponents:
Away Opponents in 2022:
Baltimore Ravens (8-9)
Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
Cleveland Browns (8-9)
Atlanta Falcons (7-10)
Carolina Panthers (5-12)
Buffalo Bills (11-6)
Miami Dolphins (9-8)
Indianapolis Colts (9-8)
Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)
On the surface, many fans will look at the above list and see easy wins on the schedule. But use the 2021 game against the Vikings as a warning. When Steelers fans looked at a road game against the Vikings in 2021, most would have said it was a win with their schedule predictions. However, when it was announced the game was on Thursday night after a home game against the rival Ravens, that should impact the way fans view the potential outcome of the game. You can’t predict the outcome of these games without seeing the actual schedule, not to mention how these teams will change in free agency and after the 2022 NFL Draft.
Some will point to intangibles for the Steelers’ road struggles. They’ll point to a lack of discipline, a lack of leadership and a lack of continuity as reasons why the team struggles away from home. Regardless, whether it is tangible, or intangible, the Steelers need to improve their play on the road in 2022 if they want to be considered a serious threat in both the AFC and AFC North.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the start of the new league year, the NFL Draft and more.