It is the Monday after the baseball season comes to a close. Surely, the sadness refers to yet another disappointing end to the Pittsburgh Pirates season, right?
In fact, for the first time since 1992, the Pirates are not only in the post-season, but they actually are hosting a game in October.
So, why the sadness? Because Pittsburgh’s beloved Steelers are a stunning 0-4 for the first time since the 1960’s. There are a great many Steelers fans who weren’t alive when they last went 0-4. But, how did they get here, and are they really that bad?
According to QB Ben Rothlisberger, they are. But is the QB just reacting after their 4th loss in as many games?
Week one, they fell to the thus-far surprising Titans, 16 to 9. Initially, this looked like a bad loss because of the Titans recent track record, though they’ve been a good team through four games. Beyond the scoreboard, this was a crushing loss for the Steelers because they landed three players on IR-Larry Foote, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and worst of all, Maurkice Pouncey. Every team in the NFL has to handle some injury woes during the season, but losing key players on offense and defense in the first game of the season put them behind the 8 ball early.
Week two was a tough loss to their division rival Bengals. It’s worth noting that, in addition to having lost the previously mentioned players in game one, the Steelers also were already waiting on injured rookie RB LeVeon Bell, who also missed this game.
Week three they ran into a then-undefeated Bears team hitting on all cylinders. It was interesting for a brief moment, but the Bears talent proved to be too much.
Week four, they had the fun of flying all the way to London to be handed their fourth loss. This was a close one, but once again, the Steelers came up short.
Are they really this bad, or is this a rough run and they can turn things around? While no one likes excuses, they’ve dealt with a number of injuries already this season. Bell, their prized rookie RB, only made his debut on Sunday in London. Their starting tight end, Heath Miller, made it back the week prior against the Bears. They brought back Plaxico Burress as a free agent, but lost him for the season over the summer. They bid adieu to James Harrison and Mike Wallace in free agency, among others. Any way you slice it, that’s a lot of turnover and lost talent in a short period of time.
Now, I don’t blame the Steelers for moving on from Harrison, and I don’t fault them for deciding not to pay Wallace the big bucks-they have to consider cap ramifications, for one. Also, they do still have a pretty good WR in Antonio Brown. But, between the off-season moves and the regular season injuries, one has to wonder if there won’t be more drastic changes coming after this season. It’s still early on in the year, and the AFC North is tightly bunched-outside of Pittsburgh at 0-4, the rest of the division is tied for first at 2-2. So, they could still come back, especially when you consider they still play the Browns and Ravens two times each. However, based on their showings thus far, there may not be enough in the tanks to make a move this season.
The good news for fans of Steel City sports teams? It’s just about hockey time, and the Pirates are in the playoffs.