4 recent times Steelers fans freaked out about an entire season
I’m saying what has to be said: Steelers Nation is an entitled, spoiled bunch.
Sorry fans, but it’s the honest trust. Only four weeks into a sixteen-week NFL season I’m hearing and reading comments such as “take for the top pick”, “Big Ben will retire”, and “the season’s over”.
Those are some petty comments when only a quarter of the season has been played. Sure, the Steelers have already had their share of highs and lows (especially lows) and only have a single victory on their record to show for it. But this isn’t the first time Steelers fans have prematurely freaked out over a rough patch during a season.
Let’s take a look at some other times Steelers Nation has hit the panic button.
Week 6 – 2014
This looked to be about as good of a place to begin this journey, as the previous two seasons ended with 8-8 records.
During Week 6 of the 2014 season, the Steelers were trading wins and losses. They traveled to Cleveland with a 3-2 record after barely hanging onto a win, via a pick-six by Brice McCain, in Jacksonville a week earlier, and a loss at home to Mike Glennon and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks prior.
The Cleveland game wasn’t the turnaround to the season fans were hoping for. Brian Hoyer led the Browns to a 31-10 stomping in which Ben Roethlisberger had a 64.4 quarterback rating salvaged by his lone touchdown pass to Lance Moore with 2:36 remaining in the game.
How it turned out
The Steelers would come out on Monday Night Football the next week with a flurry of touchdowns before halftime, beating the Houston Texans 30-23. They would be winners of four of their next five and eight of their last ten games, finishing the season 11-5 as AFC North Champions.
Week 8 – 2015
The 2015 season kicked off at New England with a loss. The Steelers would win their next two, but lose Ben Roethlisberger for a spell, relying on a combination of Michael Vick and Landry Jones to maintain the standard.
That standard had mixed results as the Steelers would lose in overtime to the Ravens, win on the road at San Diego, and somehow beat a surging Arizona Cardinals team even with Vick going down in the middle of the game. Following a total team collapse to then 1-5 Kansas City, Roethlisberger returned in a Week 8 loss to the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.
Roethlisberger had a 57.8 quarterback rating after throwing three interceptions in front of the Heinz Field faithful. Le'Veon Bell was hit low and subsequently lost for the season.
The Steelers stood at 4-4 and appeared to be ready to pack it in for 2015.
How it turned out
Turns out that Pittsburgh would rebound. They would win their next two before dropping a game in Seattle, and then win four of their last five to finish the season 10-6: good enough for a rematch against the Bengals in the Wild Card game. (We remember how that one turned out, right?)
Week 10 – 2016
After beginning the season as a Super Bowl favorite with a 4-1 record, the Steelers would lose four straight games to the Dolphins, Patriots, Ravens, and Cowboys. (Landry Jones once again subbed for an injured Big Ben, this time against the Patriots.)
The latter of those games stung the most: against the Cowboys.
Big Ben hit Antonio Brown on a would-be go-ahead touchdown following a fake spike, but the absurd amount of Dallas fans in attendance would get the last laugh when the Steelers defense failed to stop Ezekiel Elliott for his game-winning, third touchdown on the day.
How it turned out
The Steelers would win their next seven straight regular season games to finish with an 11-5 record. The momentum carried over into the postseason where the Steelers whipped the Dolphins at home, then eked out a win at Kansas City before losing to New England in the AFC Championship Game.
Week 5 – 2017
One of the worst home losses in recent memory, the Jacksonville Jaguars came to town and set the Steelers to a 3-2 record. Following a bad road loss in OT to the Chicago Bears, fans had questioned the team so much that it even had Ben Roethlisberger stating in the locker room postgame: “I'm not playing well enough… Maybe I don't have it anymore.”
How it turned out
Pittsburgh would win ten of their next eleven games. They arguably should’ve won that other one too, a loss to New England after Jesse James’ touchdown catch in the final minute of the game was controversially overturned.
There isn’t much else to say at this point. With only four games in the rearview mirror, there’s a lot of football left to be played. In some past cases, it took the Steelers a few more weeks to start gaining momentum.
That’s why I’m asking fans to have a little bit of patience. Pittsburgh still had some of the league’s top statistical leaders heading into last Sunday, including James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. They still have the best wide receiver in the game and a future Hall of Fame quarterback who is currently leading the league in passing yards.
They are largely unchanged from a defense that also led the NFL in sacks last season.
It may not be the way we, or they, wanted the season to start, but I have enough faith in how the organization has turned around in the past that I’ll wait a while before throwing my Terrible Towel in on the 2018 season.