First victory brightens Steelers' outlook
By Alan Robinson
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The Steelers' chances of making the playoffs are 5 percent, or about as faint a glimmer of hope as there can be.
They're still not running the ball with any authority or consistency. Their offensive line can't get through pregame warm-ups without a major injury. Their pass rush is spotty, their average field position is the worst in the league.
And yet this is the best the Steelers have felt about themselves all season.
Finally, despite being near the bottom of the league in an abundance of statistical categories, the Steelers are no longer last in the category that counts most: Wins.
“A win, especially with what's going on this season, is great,” center Fernando Velasco said after the first Steelers victory in 287 days, a 19-6 decision Sunday over the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Especially when what had been going on this season was nothing but losing.
Maybe all this team needed was to win one game — just one — to start feeling right about itself. To start believing it can make something of a season that seemed all but lost following the 0-4 start.
“We believe it,” defensive end Brett Keisel said. “We're not going to give up. We're not going to quit. It wasn't the start we wanted, but the men in this locker room believe that there's a chance that something great can come out of this if we all work toward it.”
Something great would be making the playoffs, which only six of the 118 teams that started 1-4 between 1990 and last season managed to do.
If the Steelers own any hope of becoming the seventh team in the last 23 years to do it, beating the Ravens (3-3) on Sunday at Heinz Field is also a must.
Coach Mike Tomlin emphasized after the Steelers dropped their first four that they had played only one AFC North game, and the division remained wide open.
Ryan Clark followed that up by saying the goal was to run the table on the remaining division schedule: the Ravens on Sunday, at Cleveland on Nov. 24 and at Baltimore four days later, and the Bengals (Dec. 15) and Browns (Dec. 29) at home during the season's final three weeks.
Impossible? The 1976 Steelers won their final nine after starting 1-4, but they needed arguably the greatest season by any defense in NFL history to achieve it.
But, as Clark said, winning a second time doesn't seem nearly as daunting as winning that first time.
“When you have that zero in the win column, your mind automatically goes to, ‘Let's get that first win,' ” Clark said. “Now you're just trying to win every game. There is not as much pressure on each and every play, especially for the younger guys that have never had a win. Or for the young guys that were here last year when we were losing down the stretch.”
Eighteen of the Steelers current 53 players had not experienced winning with them.
“When you think about it, we expect to win,” said Velasco, who, before this season, watched the Steelers from afar while playing for Tennessee. “We've got to build on it and keep going.”
There's little alternative, unless the Steelers' season is to become irrelevant by Halloween.
“We're so used to coming out of that locker room with a win,” Ben Roethlisberger said. “It's been tough this year, but we have to keep this feeling going.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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.
- Steelers notebook: Worilds loses sack; Big Ben gets 1st career catch
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- Woodley says he’s fine with move to right side despite numbers
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger comes to Haley defense again
- Host of Steelers veterans look toward career survival mode
- Steelers WR Brown says ‘I thought I had it clean’ after wild, near-miss finish
- Expert: KO doesn’t mean ‘worst’ concussion for Pens’ Orpik
- Steelers film session: Polamalu not at fault on long run
- Steelers notebook: Offense fails to make splash; defense lags
- Steelers’ NFL playoff hopes are all but gone in loss to Dolphins
- Steelers notebook: Cotchery says Tomlin turmoil not a distraction