Steelers struggling recently against defending champions
Something super this way comes for the Steelers.
They're the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants, and according to Steelers safety Ryan Clark, they're better than they were last season. Their Eli Manning-led offense is humming, they've pulled out their last two games late in the fourth quarter, and they're setting up for another playoff run.
So wouldn't it mean something for the Steelers to go on the road and beat the champs before a national audience Sunday afternoon?
Wouldn't it provide a motivational and confidence lift heading into the second half of the season?
Multiple players — and history — say no.
“There's a new Super Bowl champ every year,” nose tackle Casey Hampton said Thursday. “They won it last year, but I don't get into that. Maybe for some guys that's motivation, but for me it's not.”
The NFL is so balanced, Clark said, that any team can beat any other team. To him, teams that walk emotional tightropes by drawing motivation only from marquee teams won't survive long.
“If your determination to win the game or if your effort to win the game changes depending on the team that you play, I don't want you on my team,” Clark said. “I play every game hard, and I prepare for every game hard. That's what this is about. That's what this league is about. You play the best every week, whether you're the defending champ or not. It doesn't matter that they won the Super Bowl last year.”
Still, in 2006 and '09, the Steelers talked about catching teams at their best because they were playing the best, the Super Bowl champs from the season before.
But beating the defending champion during the regular season hasn't spurred a team to go on and win the Super Bowl in 18 years, or since the 49ers defeated the Cowboys en route to a Super Bowl win during the 1994 season.
The 1997 Broncos also beat the reigning champ, Green Bay, but that was in the Super Bowl itself. The Broncos got there by winning the AFC championship game in Pittsburgh.
Losing to the defending champion hasn't proven to be detrimental to winning the Super Bowl, either — especially for the Steelers.
The Giants a season ago (Packers), the 2008 Steelers (Giants), the '05 Steelers (Patriots), the 1996 Packers (Cowboys) and the '95 Cowboys (49ers) all lost to the reigning champion but went on to win the Super Bowl.
“I'm playing the 2012 version. If you look at the 2012 version, they're a better football team than the 2011 version,” Clark said of the Giants, who have won six of seven. “So that's who we're playing and how I'm focusing.”
What they're focusing on is attempting to keep their revived running game going against a defense that is 24th overall and allowing 4.6 yards per carry and preventing the Eli Manning-to-Victor Cruz combination from making big plays. They also want to keep the Giants' front four — specially Jason Pierre-Paul — away from Ben Roethlisberger in an effort to extend the Steelers' season-long success in controlling the time of possession.
“I think if we go out there and handle our business and win that game, we'll have beat a good football team, and that only helps us out,” cornerback Keenan Lewis said. “We need this win real bad. We'll be ready to play.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Four helicopters respond to Route 51 crash in Rostraver
- Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- Penguins 4th line showing promise
- Small stores take big gamble by not upgrading credit card readers
- Phipps winter show glows with holiday warmth
- LB Kwiatkoski sentimental about WVU traditions entering final home game
- Plan ahead to force yourself — and bulbs — out of winter doldrums
- Despite injuries, Penn State’s Nelson ‘thankful’
- Yahoo investors losing patience with ‘star’ CEO Marissa Mayer
- Gorman: Penn-Trafford’s Topper not defined by ‘the miss’