I'm not a firm believer in the "moral victory". Whether it was as a player or coach, if you lose a game, it is just that -- a loss. However, as I grow older, I tend to see beyond the final score to be able to glean certain things from the performance. It obviously wasn't good enough to win, but that doesn't necessarily mean there aren't aspects of the game which can be building blocks for future contests.
So, with that said, can the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-16 loss to the New England Patriots fall into the "moral victory" category? Well, that depends on who you ask, but there were some redeeming qualities to the black and gold's play at Heinz Field on Sunday.
Being in charge of a website as vast at this one, you get to experience a lot of what the fan base is thinking leading up to the game. Extreme hubris prior to the Week 6 game against the Miami Dolphins, and the most negative group of fans you can imagine leading into the Week 7 game against Tom Brady and the boys without Ben Roethlisberger available to play.
Not a surprise suggesting how the Steelers were heavy favorites in the Miami game, and heavy underdogs at home against the Patriots, but Pittsburgh's ability to make this game a close contest shouldn't go unnoticed. There was every chance for Bill Belichick's crew to come into Heinz Field and absolutely lambaste the Steelers, but the exact opposite happened.
- Landry Jones was supposed to fold like a cheap lawn chair, and other than his first quarter interception he acquitted himself nicely into the team's offense.
- Le'Veon Bell is proving just how valuable he is to the team, both as a runner, receiver and blocker.
- Antonio Brown is going to shatter every receiving record for the Steelers by the time his career is over, and he looked good with someone not named Roethlisberger at quarterback.
- The Steelers were able to create turnovers, despite not getting interceptions.
- Cobi Hamilton proved himself worthy of playing time, and the "next man up" philosophy continues to ring true.
I could go on, but I feel you all understand the point I'm trying to prove. Although the performance was far from perfect, and there were nearly as many negatives as positives in this contest, I feel strongly this is a performance the team can build upon.
Whether it was the cohesion which needed to take place with Jones at quarterback, or the simple fact the defense gave the team a chance to win against a high-powered offense, the Steelers head into the bye a different team than the one who came back to the Steel City with their tails in between their legs after getting whooped in South Beach.
Moral victory? Some will say yes, some will say no. Call it whatever you'd like, but with the bye week providing several players the opportunity to get back on the football field, this loss could end up spring boarding the team into bigger and better things.
I guess you could call it a "Moral Victory". I disgust myself...