Kovacevic: Steelers-Bears bigger than big
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Says right here that Steelers vs. Bears on Sunday night will be the biggest, most momentous game played in Pittsburgh all year.
Don't believe it?
Here, let me give it a shot …
It'll be bigger than May 9, 2013, at Consol Energy Center, when the Penguins needed to take Game 5 of their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Islanders. If they hadn't done that and moved on, the aftermath could have ranged from a change at coach to a change in the two-star foundation to … well, whatever. Didn't happen.
And yes, it'll be even bigger than the ongoing proceedings across the parking lot, and that's with all due respect to some powerful, playoff-implication baseball being waged between the Pirates and Reds.
This is bigger.
And it's bigger not just because the Steelers, for all their troubles, remain undisputed king in this town.
It's bigger because of what could come from a loss.
Dispensing with the obvious, the Steelers would fall to 0-3, a record only three NFL teams have transformed into a playoff berth since 1990. The season would be over before it was a month old.
And that could represent just the kickoff to a fall and winter filled with embarrassment, not least of which would be flying halfway around the world to get steamrollered by Adrian Peterson, then having a bye week to ponder 0-4, then going into New York with a realistic shot at getting beaten by Geno Smith and the Jets … and it could all wind up with a loss in the Dec. 29 finale against the Browns, a team that essentially conceded its season in Week 2.
Hey, who could possibly think any of that's impossible after what's been seen to this point, especially if it starts to snowball?
For that matter, who could possibly think there wouldn't be meaningful, maybe seismic change if it did?
They're the Steelers. I know.
They never change. I know.
But here's the part everyone seems to forget: When Bill Cowher's 2006 team went 8-8 while hung over from the Super Bowl, there was a change, regardless of who initiated it. Even when the legendary Chuck Noll got stale — his final two teams went a combined 16-16 — there was a change, regardless of who initiated it.
Fact is, since the Immaculate Reception, the Steelers have had only seven losing seasons out of 41.
And the worst record in all that time was 5-11, in 1988.
Let's not kid anyone: That's where the stability starts. It's easy to stick with what works as long as, you know, it works.
And that's where the uncertainty of what we'd see following a loss to the Bears looks outright overwhelming. All of a sudden, the questions would expand from insane Jerricho Cotchery end-arounds to stuff larger in scope and higher up the ladder:
• How is it that the 2008-12 drafts under Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin have only 11 current NFL starters to show for 42 players taken?
• Who was truly responsible for dumping Bruce Arians and replacing him with whatever derisive adjectives anyone still has left for Todd Haley and his work?
• On what plane of reality could — or should — any job be considered safe if the above questions continue to play out in the form of losses and more losses?
• Here's another that's maybe scarier still: What will become of the Steelers' franchise player?
Ben Roethlisberger's a competitor. He's also “frustrated” (his word) and “angry” (Tomlin's word) over the 0-2 start. Imagine how that'll deteriorate in correlation with even more losing.
Imagine where that leads.
Imagine, instead, how the Steelers might well turn it around against the Bears, then use it as a springboard to even their record at 2-2 in London, then pound the Jets the way everyone should, then gather more emotion from beating the rival Ravens, then swim through a five-game stretch that includes the Raiders, Bill, Lions and Browns.
And somewhere along the path, that old stability will be rediscovered, and a multiple-year recovery or even replacing prominent figures in the organization will be avoided.
I'm reminded of something striking that Lawrence Timmons told me in the opening week at Latrobe this summer when I asked about Tomlin looking more animated at the time: “Of course. There's a lot on him, too. He's the head coach. We all know this is a business, too. Everybody's job is at stake when you're losing, that's for sure. I want to do this a while. With him and with these coaches.”
Could be a big swing, huh?
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.
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Philly’s new vibrancy lures crowds
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Locke pitches 8 scoreless innings as Pirates edge Indians
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Grandmother of boy dropped at Uniontown Hospital says he’s in ICU
- Court attire can have impact, public defenders say
- Starkey: Bring back the Brawl!
- State-owned universities spend millions in race to snare students