It was noticed after the Steelers loss to the Colts. My husband, a Colts fan didn’t rub the win in, instead he sat quietly. All I said was, “that’s okay, remember the last time the Steelers lost to the Colts in regular season”. Actually, I remember it well. It was 2005 and Steelers would end up doing something that was rarely done. Run the table to get a wild card slot. The odds were against them.
Okay, so this year the Steelers aren’t running for a wild card slot. Barring a total melt down, the Steelers will be in the playoffs, either with the division title or with a WC slot. But lets rewind a few years.
It was 2005, the Steelers had come off of one of their best years ever with a 15-1 regular season record, but would fail to get to the Superbowl. The next season, the Steelers offense made a promise to get Jerome Bettis to the Superbowl. Their schedule wasn’t going to be the easiest, or so it seemed. Add to that an injury to Ben Roethlisberger’s hand and it started looking like it wasn’t going to happen. Ben would miss a few games and come back, only to lose to the Indianapolis Colts. After that loss, something changed and the Steelers would run the tables. It would be a Cowboys win that would cinch the Steelers with a sixth seed wild card berth. It was the heart of an offense and the determination of a defense that led the Steelers to their fifth Superbowl win.
They said they had no chance, no, not in 2005 but in 2008. Facing the toughest schedule in the NFL in, oh, how many years based on 07 results, the Steelers weren’t supposed to have gone this far. The year before, they’d be knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Jaguars.
Of course, it’s a little different now. The Steelers are beating the teams they should be beating and staying in the games with the good teams. Three losses against good teams led critics questioning the Steelers offense. In 05, it was the Steelers offense getting the headlines, in 08, it’s their defense.
Since losing to the Colts, the Steelers have won their last four games. Offensively, most weren’t pretty, but defensively, they were things of beauty. Bob Smizik would call their last win “magical”. And perhaps it was, after all, how could an offense who failed to make anything happen for almost three full quarters come back to tie a game against a defense that had sacked Roethlisberger five times and shut down the running game.
No, the Cowboys game, offensively was not pretty for the Steelers, but the offense did what it needed to do, they played 60 minutes. What was next, was a thing of beauty, the Steelers defense.
Perhaps in a sense this is a déjà vu. Too many things correspond to 05 to be taken lightly.
- Being knocked out of the playoffs in 04 to come back for a WC berth and go on to win the Superbowl in 05. In 07, the Steelers would win the AFC North and be knocked out in the first round
- Ben Roethlisberger would miss time for a hand injury and his quarterback rating would take a hit in 05. This season, Roethlisberger’s been nursing a shoulder injury that may have effected his throwing ability.
- An 05 loss to the Colts led the Steelers to run the table. After a loss in 08 to the Colts, the Steelers have yet to lose.
- The Steelers berth in the playoffs depended on the Cowboys beating their opponent in 05. The Steelers position in the playoffs could very well come down to a Cowboy win over the Ravens in the last game of the season.
The major difference is, it’s the Steelers defense playing with heart this season. Could it be that the Steelers defense wants to win the ring for Dick LeBeau on his 50th season in the NFL? After all, it’s not a secret that the defense corps believe that LeBeau belongs in the Hall of Fame, after this season, who could argue against it?
And with the comeback on the Steelers offense against a Cowboys defense that some doubted that they could get past, could prove that the offense is going to help the defense do what needs to be done to get there.
Playing with heart got the Steelers there in 05 and it’s the same heart that’s driving them towards it this year. With this defense and the offense getting better with each game, how can I not believe?