History shows Week 1 losses don’t doom Steelers’ entire season
About 14 hours after a loss that had few silver linings for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bud Dupree managed to find one.
“Nobody was getting decapitated,” Dupree said Monday in reviewing a 33-3 loss at the New England Patriots the night before, “or nothing like that.”
Indeed, each of the 53 men on the Steelers active roster seemed to have their heads firmly attached. But while their necks also seemed to retain full function, many of the Steelers vowed not to use them to look back.
“We can’t dwell on that now,” cornerback Mike Hilton said of the Week 1 loss. “We have to move on to Seattle this week.
“It’s not the end of the world. It’s the first game of the season. Nobody’s stressing. Nobody’s upset. We’re getting ready for next week. We have a lot of adjustments to make, and we’ll be ready.”
Many Steelers said Sunday’s loss — ugly as it was, and demoralizing as it could have been considering the opponent — was just one-16th of a regular season that is barely underway.
The Steelers have won just three of their past nine season openers. They rebounded to make the playoffs during two of the previous four they’ve lost, including 2015, when they similarly were beaten soundly by a Patriots team that raised a Super Bowl banner while they watched.
“It’s one game. No one is panicking here yet,” veteran guard David DeCastro said. “Obviously, not what you’re hoping for and not what you expected. But just get back on the horse and get back to work Wednesday,”
Week 1, in general, hasn’t necessarily been an accurate harbinger for the remainder of the season for the Steelers. Among all the season openers they won or lost — last season was a 21-21 tie at the Cleveland Browns — since 1980, the outcome correlated with the Steelers making the playoffs in just 17 of 38 seasons.
The Steelers were 21-17 in opening games between 1980-2017. During the 21 seasons they started 1-0 in that span, they qualified for the postseason 11 times. Of the 17 seasons that began with a defeat, the Steelers rebounded for a playoff berth 11 times.
In other words, over a span of almost four decades, the Steelers have been more likely to be a playoff team after a season-opening loss than when they have won their first game.
“You got to take (the one loss) with a grain of salt,” Hilton said. “We didn’t like how (the season) started, but it’s still a long season. We’ve got a lot of adjustments to make. And we will be prepared.”
Since 2001, of the six seasons the Steelers finished with at least 12 wins, three featured blowout losses in Week 1 or Week 2. That includes season-opening duds in 2001 (a 21-3 loss at Jacksonville) and ‘11, a 35-7 shellacking at Baltimore.
Four players remain from that team, one that rebounded by winning 12 of its final 15 regular-season games. Three are team captains who could draw from the experience from those 2011 Steelers who, coincidentally, played their home opener in Week 2 against Seattle.
The Steelers host the Seahawks in their 2019 home opener Sunday.
“Just make everyone understand that (getting blown out Week 1) doesn’t have to be our season,” said defensive captain Cameron Heyward. “We’ve learned it doesn’t define our season. Just we got back to work. It’s simple as that.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .