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Style points should never matter to the Steelers or their fans

The NFL is a pass/fail league. Despite their ugly style of play, the Steelers have passed many more times than they've failed in 2017.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

At 10-2, the Steelers have gotten off to their best start since they began the 2004 campaign 11-1.

Back then, social media and fan blogs didn't exist; therefore, I didn't seem to mind some less-than-stellar victories over average-to-below teams like the Raiders, Dolphins, Bengals, Browns and Redskins, which helped them get off to such a fast start.

All the way through to a 15-1 record, I didn't really care that Pittsburgh eked out a close victory over the Giants on a Saturday afternoon, or that it didn't look all that impressive while clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory over a nine-win Ravens team in the next-to-last game of the regular season.

I was just blown away by those 15 victories, which, at the time, set an AFC record.

Don't get me wrong, I was impressed by those back-to-back dominant wins against the Patriots and Eagles at Heinz Field in the middle of the season; both teams came into Pittsburgh with undefeated records, and both teams boarded their buses for the airport hours later with their tails between their legs.

Speaking of New England and Philadelphia, they went on to represent their respective conferences in Super Bowl XXXIX. That's right, despite the Steelers total destruction of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick on Halloween evening seven weeks earlier, New England came to Heinz Field for the AFC Championship game and, hours later, boarded the team bus for the airport with the Lamar Hunt Trophy in-hand, after a 41-27 victory that wasn't even that close.

Remember nine years ago, when the Steelers seemed to labor their way through 12 regular season victories? Maybe you don't remember that so much, because they went on to labor through three more postseason wins on the way to a victory in Super Bowl XLIII.

That's the thing about past successful seasons. History has a way of erasing those unpleasant memories and any tension you may have experienced along the way—and this is especially the case if the ultimate victory was achieved at season's end.

DVDs and highlights usually only show the great parts.

For example, you may have seen highlights of every single one of Terry Bradshaw's 30 postseason touchdown passes, but what about the 26 interceptions he threw?

Want to try something neat?

Google Pro Football Reference and research some of the Steelers Super Bowls years from the 1970's.

Fish tales being what they are, the Steelers of four decades go—arguably the greatest sports dynasty of all-time—seem to grow more mythical and dominant with each passing year.

But if you go back and look at a lot of the statistics and scores from those years, you'll see that the Steelers—winners of four Super Bowls in six years, mind you—had their share of struggles along the way.

Sure, there were a lot of blowout victories, but there were also a ton of 13-10 squeakers over those "lesser teams."

Believe it or not, there were even some eggs laid along the way.

Fact is, week-by-week performance isn't always an indicator of how a team will do come playoff time. Neither is past performance against a particular opponent. If that were the case, the '04 Steelers would have destroyed New England in the AFC title game.

Speaking of the Patriots, they won their first 18 games of the 2007 season by an average of three touchdowns, but they lost their 19th game, which just so happened to come against the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

What's my point in all of this?

The Steelers have gotten off to their best start in 13 years, but if I went by the talk shows, Facebook and places like BTSC, I would guess they were headed for a sub-.500 finish.

I get it, the nature of the media and the fans is to complain about the bad stuff—nobody ever says "Great call!" after a touchdown—but the greatest joy of following a team is watching it win a game.

I believe it was Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin who said the NFL is a pass/fail league.

I do know he was the one who coined the phrase, "Style points don't matter" nine years ago, after that beautiful victory over the Cowboys at Heinz Field—a game that seemed anything but pretty for the first 58 minutes or so.

I know what you're going to say. Yes, it's all about how the Steelers will do against New England if the two teams meet in January.

If the Steelers were to meet-up with the Patriots in the playoffs for the second-straight season, are you convinced they would beat them?

No, and why? Because of those close victories over teams like the Colts, Packers, and the latest against the Bengals, right?

Let me ask you this: Would you feel any more confident if the Steelers were blowing every team out by four touchdowns?

No, and why? Because of Pittsburgh's 0-3 postseason record against the Patriots in the Belichick/Brady era.

Fact is, we won't know if the Steelers can beat New England until they do.

And the beauty of the postseason is they might not even have to find out.

Therefore, enjoy the ride, and embrace the pass/fail nature of the NFL a little more.