Last night, the Steelers lost their first game of the season to the Washington Football Team. The final score was 23-17 and made the Steelers record 11-1 on the year. This seemed like a long time coming as they have gotten pretty lucky in the past few games, starting a couple of weeks back at Dallas, where they needed a fourth quarter come back and a few calls to go their way in order to pull it off.
Coming into the game, Washington was an 8.5 point underdog and for the most part, had no expectations to win this game. The Steelers were coming off a really sloppy win to the short-handed Ravens, including an inconsistent showing from the offense. Washington’s defense has been great all season especially against the run, so this was an under-the-radar bad matchup for the Steelers.
The Steelers have been a force on defense all season, but are slowly starting to get less healthy every week. They just lost Bud Dupree for the season, who was a pretty important part of the deadly pass rush they have produced all season.
To say the least, the record the Steelers have right now does not represent the team that they actually are. They are obviously trying to get home field throughout the playoffs and after last night, the road to home-field advantage got a lot tougher.
No one wants to go to Kansas City in January, especially an inconsistent offense like Pittsburgh who often struggles to get the run game going. Forget the Chiefs for a minute, next week the Steelers take a trip to Buffalo for a Sunday night game. This will be the biggest test of the season for them. Coming off a loss, going on the road against a contending team may be just exactly what the Steelers need right now. This matchup may prove who the second-best team in the AFC is, for now.
This team has shown that they can beat anyone, but at the same time, this team has shown at certain times, that they can lose to anyone as well. In the next four weeks, the Steelers have a game at Buffalo, at the Bengals, home against the Colts, and on the road to Cleveland. The last four games of the season feature three road games.
If the Steelers are the team we expected and saw at the beginning of the season, they need to win at least three of these games. Many are expecting, like myself, for them to go 2-2 which is beating the Bengals and the Browns and losing to the Bills and the Colts. As of right now, even the Browns look like a much better and a completely different team from the 38-7 loss they took to Pittsburgh earlier in the year, so that could be another loss for the Steelers, or at least a much closer game.
Head coach Mike Tomlin deserves the benefit of the doubt and all of the respect because of his coaching resume with this team. After all, he has yet to have a losing record on the Steelers and that is something no one else has been able to do. If the Steelers truly are the real deal, they need to get back to work this week and start preparing for their toughest matchup of the season yet in Buffalo. They are always under great expectations and we have yet to see if this year’s team can handle them.