The Pittsburgh Steelers may just be the most interesting team in the American Football Conference. First they average 48 points per game against 2 of the AFC’s best teams, The Colts and the Ravens. Then score 13 against the 2-8 Jets and eek out a 3 point win against AFC South cellar-dweller Tennessee. What’s in the water in South West Pennsylvania?
Playing down to the level of an oppenent is a problem that has plagued the Steelers for years. Head Coach Mike Tomlin is 3-8 against teams with a .200 winning percentage or worse on the road. These awful loses include a 2012 34-31 loss to the 4-12 Oakland Raiders, a 26-23 loss to the 6-10 Titans that same year, a 34-27 loss to the 5-10-1 Vikings in 2013, and a pitiful 21-18 loss to the 4-12 Raiders in 2013. There are more to be named, but the point has been made: the Steelers lose to bad teams but then beat good ones. Like taking down the 1st place Colts 51-34 in record fashion this season and upsetting Super Bowl runner-up New England 25-17 in 2011. So I’ll ask again: what is in the water in south west Pennsylvania?
The Steelers are the NFL’s example of playing to the level of your competition. The primetime high profile match ups get the focus, but are then followed by letdowns vs. inferior teams. The last of the Steelers 6 super bowls, coming in 2008, they faced the NFL’s toughest schedule. From NFL Network’s ‘America’s Game’ there was a saying among the team, “It’s a 5-star matchup because we’re in it.” Why deviate? The Steelers are one of the top teams in the AFC. Treat every game like it’s a Sunday night matchup. Every team gets equal respect. The Broncos are no better than the Raiders. “It’s a 5-star matchup because the Steelers are in it.”