Just when you thought the Pittsburgh Steelers had developed into a team not reliant on the annual "let down" game, they laid an egg on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles. Laying an egg might be a nice way of stating what happened Sunday when they were absolutely man-handled 34-3 on the road in the city of brotherly love.
This isn't about the "let down" game. This isn't about the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This isn't about preparation from coaches, and this isn't even about the dreaded tackling on display Sunday.
No, this is about something completely different. This is about the fan base.
There are losses every year, after all, only the '72 Miami Dolphins can say they weren't handed a defeat throughout the course of an entire season and postseason. With that said, you would think fans would come to terms with defeat a little better than they typically do.
Before you immediately scroll down to the comment section and start swearing about how bad the Steelers looked on Sunday, you can stop there -- I'm well aware of how poorly they played. However, at the same time you have to look at the big picture. This is where football is the best, and worst, sport to follow. There is one game a week. If a baseball team gets slaughtered at home, they typically play again in the next 48 hours. Same can be said about basketball and hockey. Nonetheless, in football a poor performance just lingers for an entire week until your team can finally get back on the gridiron, hopeful to get the nasty taste out of your mouth.
Again, let's take a look at the big picture.
- The Steelers loss was not a divisional loss, it wasn't a conference loss and it wasn't a home loss. In that regard, if you were going to hand pick a loss on the schedule, this would be one of those games you would choose. No one wants to lose, but you have to look at how it may impact the playoff race.
- Pittsburgh has been in this situation before, unfortunately it seems to be a yearly occurrence, and they usually bounce back. Doing so this week against the Kansas City Chiefs will be not easy task, but being at home will certainly be a boost for a team weary off a nasty road defeat.
- Last I checked there were 16 games on the schedule, not three. Heck, even if there were just three games on the schedule, the Steelers would be 2-1. The loss was bad, but it can't spoil an entire season...not with the talent the Steelers have at skill positions.
- Ultimately, like in 2015, this team will be graded and judged by their resiliency. When their backs are against the wall, how do they handle it? When someone goes down with an injury, do they dig deep and claw out a victory, or do they seem to put their heads in the sand and hope all is well above ground?
There are a lot of silver linings in the NFL, and the Steelers have a couple, even after the 34-3 drubbing. Le'Veon Bell's return will help the Steelers offense immensely. He will not just help with running the football, but also as a receiver as well as in pass protection. Bell could, and should, turn into Ben Roethlisberger's safety valve when things break down. A job he did so well in 2014 he was named a first team All-Pro.
Other than that, history shows one game doesn't make, or break, a season. Look at the 2014 Monday night defeat the New England Patriots saw against the Chiefs. Complete blowout in every sense of the word. They would turn out to be just fine. In 2015 the Chiefs started the year 1-5, with some really bad losses in that mix, and they ended up playing in the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs. The Steelers last loss in Philadelphia in 2008 was almost as bad as the one on Sunday, despite a smaller margin of victory, and the team went on to win the Super Bowl.
I'm not asking fans to not be passionate, it is all we have when it comes to our connection with our beloved Steelers, but keeping a level head about you throughout the season will only help you avoid the roller coaster ride of emotion on a weekly basis. If Sunday's performance happened to be a playoff game, then by all means...head to your keyboards and start the venom, but until then, give the Steelers a chance to prove themselves after a tough loss.
After all, it is only Week 3.