We’ve been saying since the Steelers were sitting at 2-3 that every game was a must win game. The margin for error was small then, it’s even smaller now but that window is still open even if our team should lose today. The Steelers must win the remaining four games on their schedule after today in order to get into the post season; if they do that and the Bengals are still either tied with the Steelers or at least 1 game back, Pittsburgh will get a post season berth.
That’s a long way off though and this game is going to tell a lot about the resiliency of the Pittsburgh players and how badly they want to atone for the disaster they put on display last weekend in Cleveland.
We talk frequently, as Steelers fans, about how well our team responds to adversity. When the chips are down, when every sign points to a loss, we count on them to find a way to win. If there is one team that can play the “us against the world” card and come out with a Full House, it’s Pittsburgh.
Those ominous signs are certainly plentiful today; Charlie Batch will start at QB while newly signed former Patriot Brian Hoyer will back him up. Kelvin Beachum, the teams rookie 7th round Tackle will start today in place of fellow rookie Mike Adams who was starting for 2nd year Florida man Marcus Gilbert.
If that isn’t enough to make you worry, I don’t know what will. A rookie starting for a rookie protecting a 37 yr old 3rd string backup quarterback.
There are signs of hope though for today and the rest of the season. Antonio Brown is back from a 3 week layoff due to a high ankle sprain. Troy Polamalu who barely played at all this year is back on the field and reports say he’s healthy after his calf injury. Jonathan Dwyer, the only true “hot hand” in the Steelers backfield was named the starter by Mike Tomlin. Jerricho Cotchery also returns from his rib injury.
Even with Lamarr Woodley out with a bad ankle, Jason Worilds has shown that he’s more than capable enough to get after the quarterback, as he leads the team with 5 sacks. When’s the last time you thought a backup linebacker would be leading the vaunted Pittsburgh defense and only have 5 sacks on the year heading into week 12?
Be that as it may, Worilds is improving and Dick Lebeau will need him to be strong today along with James Harrison who had 3 sacks on the year and finally looks to be getting back to full speed.
There are so many things stacked against the Steelers today, mainly on offense but this the Ravens now. We need only look back a couple weeks to see just how close the Steelers came to beating Baltimore even without Ben Roethlisberger. Needless to say Special Teams will be a big part of the team’s success or lack of it. If Mike Tomlin and Amos Jones even think of allowing Drew Butler to kick to Jacoby Jones today they should be fined their entire years’ salary.
For every positive thought surrounding a player coming back from injury, there’s a corresponding questionable one about a starter who is still out. Such is life in the NFL, there are no excuses for who isn’t there, only that the 22 guys on the field must leave it on the field.
If the Steelers want to get their season back on track, it starts today.