Tell me if this sounds familiar: After a tense back-and-forth struggle against an 0-3 football team at Heinz Field, the Steelers (2-1) appear to have the game salted away following a fourth-down stop around the two-minute warning. Inexplicably, however, the winless team is aided greatly by a special teams gaffe and takes advantage of the mistake to capture its first win of the season.
If you were thinking of Pittsburgh's depressing 23-20 overtime loss to the Ravens last Thursday night, a loss aided greatly by former kicker Josh Scobee's two missed field goals in the waning moments, I don't blame you. However, what I was secretly referring to was Pittsburgh's 27-24 home loss to the winless Buccaneers in Week 4 of the 2014 season. Much like the Baltimore game, the Steelers' defense stopped Tampa's offense on downs around the two-minute warning and looked to have the game won at 24-20. Unfortunately, the stop occurred very deep in Pittsburgh territory, and after the Steelers' offense failed to move the ball and pick up a first down, former punter Brad Wing sort of pulled a reverse Scobee and only booted the football 29 yards, giving the Buccaneers offense the football at the Pittsburgh 46-yard line with 40 seconds to play. Tampa took advantage and won the game when some quarterback named Mike Glennon hit receiver Vincent Jackson with a touchdown pass in the waning seconds, leading Steelers fans to take to the airwaves and the Internet and spew their venom. And it was really hard to blame them, because it was just a dumb way to lose a football game.
Thankfully, the Steelers rebounded (well, after a near-loss to the winless Jaguars followed by a blow-out in Cleveland at the hands of the Browns, anyway) to finish 11-5 and win their first AFC North title in four seasons.
As Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is often fond of saying after a tough loss, the team "showered it off" quite well (the loss to Tampa) and gave the fans one of the best finishes to a regular season in quite some time. Will it happen again this year, after that very depressing (and annoying for the way John Harbaugh kept pumping his fist in the air like he had a hand in Scobee missing both of those field goals) overtime loss to the Ravens?
One can only hope. Of course, the variables are slightly different this time around. For starters, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be out for at least a few more weeks, and it's kind of hard to shower a tough loss off when you don't have your best player. Also, the loss to the Bucs last year was an NFC loss, meaning the playoff consequences weren't quite as costly as losing to a team in the AFC and in your own division, such as the Ravens.
Hopefully, Michael Vick will benefit from the week and a half he'll have to get ready for the Chargers (as opposed to the three days he had to prepare for Baltimore), and the Steelers can venture into San Diego and steal a game this coming Monday night.
Right now, the way that game against the Ravens ended, a victory for Pittsburgh this week seems as vital as it has in quite some time.