Momentum is a funny thing. It comes and goes. For the Pittsburgh Steelers right now, old uncle Mo is nowhere to be found.
Somebody put an APB out on him ASAP.
After 30 minutes of near-perfect football in their season opener vs. Cleveland where they took a 27-3 lead, the Steelers have been flatter than an IHOP pancake special. They went into an offensive shell over the last 90 minutes of football, managing just nine points during that time span. The defense has been worse, allowing 50.
It used to be that running the football on the Steelers wasn't easy, but times have changed. The Browns & Baltimore Ravens each gashed them for over 150 yards on the ground. Add the pressure of a second consecutive road test against an opponent that was among league's best defenses in 2013, then toss in the ingredient of a national TV audience on Sunday night just to spice things up.
And you get to face a guy named Cam Newton.
Got any Maalox laying around?
But I'm here to tell you, Steelers fans, that all is not lost. This season which started out so promising, yet turned so sour so fast, isn't a total loss if the Steelers go to Tar-Heel Land and lay another egg. There's still some hope for success this season if they lose.
That success, however, is going to revolve around the offense and its ability to pick things up and get the motor going. It has become clear the defense still is very much in transition, lacking any sort of front-wall push or stop for that matter. The linebackers are mostly a mess and the secondary is near critical mass.
But don't panic just yet.
You see this is the NFL. One week you're down, out, forgotten and left for dead. Fans, media and pundits are writing you off, as if your mere presence is only a formality.
But that view could be wrong. I'm here to say that, despite the cries of despair from Steelers Nation and despite the fundamental breakdowns both on offense and defense, this team's fate in 2014 doesn't resemble a miserable death if they lose to the Panthers.
Keep in mind that, after the Panthers, the Steelers get a home game against an 0-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers club that's dreadful. After that, they pay a visit to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who also stink. Then it's a visit to the Browns who they have owned since Ben Roethlisberger became quarterback, losing just once in 11 seasons.
So despite the poor start, despite the struggles to stop anybody or score points and despite all of the negativity, a loss on Sunday at Carolina isn't necessarily a season killer. Your luck can change just like that.
Just consult your schedule and smile, Steelers fans. There's light at the end of the tunnel.
John Phillips is a radio personality for 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh and a columnist for Behind The Steel Curtain. Check him out on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.