By Jeremy Hritz
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-4 for the first time since 1968, and the pervasive feeling is that the losing will continue. If it does, the stories that sprout from the losing squad aren’t difficult to imagine.
Following the Steelers final game this year against the Cleveland Browns on December 29th, the season could be concluded by the following synopsis:
The Steelers put a bow on their season of misery by dropping their 12th game of the season to the Browns, finishing 2013 without a divisional win. Landry Jones, who had been forced into action because of injuries earlier in the season to Ben Roethlisberger and Bruce Gradkowski, was harassed all day, being sacked six times and throwing three interceptions. Le’Veon Bell, as he has been since returning from his mid-foot sprain, was solid, but not enough for the Steelers to make a serious challenge to winning the game. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders were visibly frustrated as Jones simply did not have the time to deliver the football. Defensively, the surrendering of big plays continued, and disappointingly, the much-heralded rookie Jarvis Jones concluded his first full season without a sack. At 4-12, heads will assuredly roll, and next year’s Steelers team could look drastically different from a personnel standpoint.
Of course this is a pessimistic view of the remaining 2013 season, but based on how the Steelers have played in their first four games, it is a brutal reality that Steelers Nation may be unwillingly facing come December 29th.
But hope springs eternal.
Imagine, just for a minute, if the 2013 version of the Steelers can turn it around and start stacking wins. And imagine the headlines at the storylines at the season’s conclusion if that does happen:
At the end of September, the Steelers were dead and buried at 0-4, and heading into their bye week, the focus was more on 2014 draft picks than it was on playoff positioning. However, after the Steelers earned their 11th victory in 12 games by defeating the Browns, the Steelers have surprisingly won the AFC North and will host a playoff game. Behind a much improved offensive line and a rejuvenated running game led by rookie Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers continued to be physical on offense and to win the time of possession battle. But no player has been more important in the team’s resurgence than NFL-MVP candidate Ben Roethlisberger, who turned in another masterful performance. And on defense, rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones continued to harass the quarterback, while Cortez Allen picked off two Brandon Weedon passes, including one for a score. What a difference 12 games made for the 2013 Steelers.
4-12 and 11-5 are extremes, and more than likely at season’s end, the Steelers final record will be somewhere in between.
Though all of the evidence currently points to a continuation of suffering this season, and there are no delusions of the Steelers firing off 12 straight wins, you can never say never, as there is always the possibility for a revival.
After four discouraging weeks, how do you see the state of the Steelers come 4:00 PM on December 29th?