Heading into Sunday's game against the lowly Dolphins, the Steelers looked like one of the best teams in the AFC. But as has happened more times than coach Mike Tomlin would like to remember, the Steelers have an uncanny ability to no-show against the league's worst teams.
It happened again in Miami against the one-win outfit that struggled to get first downs over the first five weeks of the season. Against Pittsburgh, Ryan Tannehill looked like a legit franchise quarterback, Jay Ajayi looked like Larry Csonka, and the Steelers were helpless to do anything about it.
When it was over, the Dolphins won easily, 30-15.
How bad has it been? Here are the gory details:
- 2009, Week 11: 6-3 Steelers lose to 2-7 Chiefs, 27-24. Line: Steelers -11.5
- 2009, Week 13: 6-5 Steelers lose to 3-8 Raiders, 27-24. Line: Steelers -15.0
- 2009, Week 14: 6-6 Steelers lose to 1-11 Browns, 13-6. Line: Steelers -10.0
- 2012, Week 3: 1-1 Steelers lose to 0-2 Raiders, 34-31. Line: Steelers -4.0
- 2012, Week 6: 2-2 Steelers lose to 1-4 Titans, 26-23. Line: Steelers -6.5
- 2012, Week 12: 6-4 Steelers lose to 2-8 Browns, 20-14. Line: Steelers -2.0
- 2012, Week 14: 7-4 Steelers lose to 4-8 Chargers, 34-24. Line: Steelers -7.5
- 2013, Week 4: 0-3 Steelers lose to 0-3 Vikings, 34-27. Line: Steelers -3.0
- 2013, Week 8: 2-4 Steelers lose to 2-4 Raiders, 21-18. Line: Steelers -2.5
- 2014, Week 4: 2-1 Steelers lose to 0-3 Buccaneers, 27-24. Line: Steelers -7.5
- 2014, Week 10: 6-3 Steelers lose to 1-8 Jets, 20-13. Line: Steelers -4.0
- 2014, Week 13: 7-4 Steelers lose to the 4-7 Saints, 35-32. Line: Steelers -3.5
- 2015, Week 16: 9-5 Steelers lose to the 4-10 Ravens, 20-10. Line: Steelers -10.0
- 2016, Week 6: 4-1 Steelers lose to the 1-4 Dolphins, 30-15. Line: Steelers -7.0
That's 14 losses over six seasons to teams with a combined record of 25-87, which works out to a winning percentage of .195. The Steelers, meanwhile, were 64-46, a winning percentage of .581. The Steelers were also favored in every game.
Jay Ajayi is the 1st player with 200 rush yds against the Steelers since Week 12 of 2000 (Fred Taylor: 234 rush yds for Jaguars) pic.twitter.com/QTUiBFYWL1— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 16, 2016
The good news, we guess, is that the Steelers face the Patriots next week, a team that last had a losing record in 2000.
If you're looking for excuses, Pittsburgh has battled injuries this season -- but so has every other team. Either way, Ben Roethlisberger thinks it may have something to do with the physical practices. (In related news: Roethilsberger left Sunday's game briefly with a knee injury.)
Whatever the explanation, the team's first two picks in the 2015 draft -- linebacker Bud Dupree and cornerback Senquez Golson -- were both injured in training camp and neither has played a snap in the regular season. Veteran wideout Markus Wheaton has missed three games with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, these starters are currently sidelined after missed at least one game: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert, inside linebacker Ryan Shazier and one of the team's best players, defensive end Cam Heyward.
After the Steelers host the Patriots, they'll have a bye week before games against Baltimore and Dallas.
If you're looking for a silver lining, there's this: The Steelers finished 8-8 in both 2012 and 2013 when they lost to terrible teams on six occasions. But they've made the postseason the last two years, when the inexplicable losses happened "just" four times.