I'm not the kind of guy who ever feels totally secure in the fortunes of the Steelers.
Of course, historically, they sort of stagger their way through the regular season. Post Terry Bradshaw, they made due with a parade of second-rate QBs – and even spent a couple of seasons trying to turn wide receiver Kordell Stewart back into a quarterback – with varying results. Do you remember Bubby Brister? No? You're not alone.
Neil O'Donnell managed to get them to Super Bowl XXX in 1995. He should have been sued for malpractice after tossing a couple of interceptions to the Cowboys in that game. As a Steelers fan, it was tragic.
In 2003, there was a rumor or two of Dan Marino finishing up his last year in the NFL at Pittsburgh. Had that happened, the Steelers would probably have another championship and Marino a Super Bowl ring. It was essentially the same team that Roethlisberger had a 15 and 1 season with in 2004 and took to the Super Bowl in the 2005 season. The Steelers were a championship team in search of a decent QB.
|Does seeing this action shot of ol' Bubby Brister help ring any bells? Didn't think so.|
Since Big Ben has been at the helm, they have not cast off their mantle as the “Cardiac Kids.” Even in the two seasons resulting in Super Bowl wins, on regular-season game day, you never knew if it was the champion-caliber Steelers or the guys who tripped over their shoelaces getting off the team bus that were going to show up that day.
Even when they went on to win Super Bowl XL at the end of the 2005 season, it was as a Wild Card. They won 11 and lost 5 that season – 3 of those loses came clumped together in a mid-season slump. They were 7 and 2 up to that point. They played with more authority in their most recent Super Bowl-winning season in 2008, winning 12 regular-season games. At least they went six for six within their division. By week 13 or 14, we were pretty sure they were headed to the playoffs. With home-field advantage, they beat the Chargers and the Ravens (for the third time that season) to work their way to the championship game against the Arizona Cardinals, which turned out to be a nail-biter against a team that went 9 and 7 in the regular season.
I am escorting you – kicking and screaming, no doubt – down memory lane as a prologue to admitting, I have no clue how the Steelers will wind up this season. So far their play has been mediocre at best until last week's brilliant offensive effort against the Colts. The week before, they were being slapped around by the Texans until a 3-minute spurt of brilliance late in the second quarter saw them rack up 24 points. They only scored another 6 off of field goals the rest of the game. And, although the offense blew it out against the Colts, the defense gave up 34 points. Steelers have only scored more than 34 points twice this season, including against the Colts.
Early in the season I thought they were bound for another 8 and 8 finish. At 5 and 3, it could still be the case, but somehow, I don't think so. I think, barring any major injuries, they have a fair chance of landing at least a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. A lot will depend on how they perform in their remaining three divisional match ups: Ravens tonight and Bengals in weeks 13 and 17.
So, I will be crossing my fingers, thinking happy thoughts – the glass is half full, the glass is half full... – as I grit my teeth through tonight's game.