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View Full Version : Possible explanation for our slow start this season


LayingTheWoodley56
11-22-2011, 11:42 AM
To state the obvious - we suffered two losses to our hated rival Baltimore Ravens this season. One, I watched at a bar here in Albany, N.Y. where I go to school - though it was 1 PM on a Sunday, in a fit of start-of-football-season spirits I decided to drink heavily before, during and after the game. In retrospect, that was a good decision because rarely if ever have I seen a worse display of football from a good team - at least the blow was softened temporarily by inebriation. The second one, I traveled to Pittsburgh for my second trip to Heinz Field and had my heart ripped out and left in section 524. I think it's still there.

This could be viewed as a disaster for us, and it definitely sucked to lose those two games. If we play them again in January (and I hope we do), you can bet the boys in black and gold will be fired up.

Now (and we are all loathe to do this, given our undying hatred for them,) but step into the shoes of the Ravens and their fans for one second going into that matchup. Your supposed franchise quarterback...has never beaten our franchise quarterback. Twice in the past three seasons, your season has been laid to rest on our home-field (and a third time in 2001.) Hell, just last year you held a 14-point lead on us in a playoff game and proceeded to be outscored 24-3 the rest of the way. In 2008, we swept you and took control of the division on a last-second victory at M&T (the famous Tone catch on the goal line.) You had another chance to beat us last year and swing the home-field advantage, only to watch...a strip-sack by #43 (same guy who picked Flacco to ice the 2008 AFC title game) lead to an improbable game-winning touchdown catch through three broken tackles by our third-string running back. We proceed to win the conference and go to a third Super Bowl since you've been in one.

Now, I ask you...who is more fired up for that Week 1 match-up (and I mean way more fired up.) Who has a chip the size of Pennsylvania on their shoulders? Who is playing in front of a rabid home crowd who is asking you, for chrissakes, to beat these guys? I'll say this: it's definitely not the 30-something guys who have had tremendous success together over the last 7-8 years, whose last meaningful game before this one was the Super Bowl.

It is simply human nature to become satisfied when you have reached a certain level of achievement. I will never question the desire of the Steelers of this era. You can't be as successful as they have been without a burning desire to succeed, and a healthy work ethic to go with it. I'm not saying they weren't excited for this season, or they lost their swagger, or anything like that. But I would contend that it's simply impossible to be as hungry as you were for your first Super Bowl championship as you are for your third. 17 guys on this team already have two, and a whole bunch more have one. Case, Keis, Ike, Ben, Hines, Smith, Harrison, Farrior, Troy - these players are very familiar with playing on the biggest stage football has to offer. Like I said, it is human nature to suffer letdowns against players who haven't achieved what you have, but still have the insatiable hunger too.

We didn't play well against the likes of Curtis Painter and Blaine Gabbert, squeaking out two wins. It's no coincidence that both of those games followed comfortable victories. The Colts game was after we beat the hell out of the Seahawks, which was not coincidentally after we were embarrassed by the Ravens. The Jags game was after we crushed the Titans, which was not coincidentally after we lost to the Texans.

Both of those blowout victories came with a chip on our shoulder following a loss, while the two lethargic victories over inferior competition came because while we understandably may have taken those two squads lightly, they are full of young and hungry players coming out jacked up looking to hit the big, bad Steelers in the mouth. I don't blame them for struggling to find that intensity for a 1 PM home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. And good teams will win those games, regardless of how bad they play, like we did.

Our struggles early this season were a ****tail of physical deficiencies related to age and the complacency that has clearly become a trend in the NFL for Super Bowl losers the next season. Simply put, we may have been due for an off-year and it looked like we were on track for such. I believe, however, that our early-season foibles and the wide-spread criticism that followed were the impetus for getting the fire back in the bellies of our guys this season. At a time when many of them had nothing left to prove, the noise coming from fans and media pundits about how we were "old, slow, and done" (to use the words of one fat slob/ex-player) gave us again something to prove: that the old guys can stil play with anyone, and better than anyone. Point taken. And response GIVEN.

You guessed it. We're back where we belong: top of the AFC. Top of the North division. With everything that has happened this season, the direct disrespect that has been fired at my boys from people who have no idea what their talking about, has pissed me, us, and them off to the point where we again have everything to prove. We will ready to play Baltimore, and anybody else who doesn't have a couple of rings.

One last thought, and I'll let this go: much like players can grow complacent, so can fans. As a young Steelers fan, 05 was the first SB title I watched. I was, to say the least, elated. Ecstatic. As happy as I've ever been about anything, pretty much. The second title, though incredible, won in a better game with a more exciting finish and another awesome night that left great memories and pride, was not quite as good as the first one. I would be lying if I said I wanted a third title last year as much as I wanted to beat the Seahawks in February 06.

But all of this crap being said about this team - my team, our team this year? Oh, that fire is back, baby. I can't wait for everyone to eat their words when Roger Goodell is handing his favorite whipping boys, Harrison, Ryan, and Co. - that Lombardi in Indy in February. We'll see what Warren Sapp, Ratbird Nation and the rest have to say then.

steelfury02
11-22-2011, 09:18 PM
It is these types of posts that get me fired up and wish I had the opportunity, physical prowess and football smarts to play at the professional level - can you imagine the emotional charge these guys get from basically being a gladiator with thousands upon thousands of people cheering for you ?!?!?!? In many ways, this group of guys are already immortalized.

All romanticism aside - I hope you are right. For the sake of saving what we, as football fans, love about actual football, nothing would be better than the most physical team winning a championship in the face of changing rules and evolution into a pass-happy league. We let a fantastic opportunity to win an unprecedented seventh Lombardi and a third ring for a lot of these guys - which is a sure ticket into Canton - slip away via turnovers. I'm sure they are all chomping at the bit to make history. As hard as it is to admit, the door is closing, or has already closed for some of these guys. No matter what the level of contribution may be - the writing is on the wall and they deserve one last ring to say the least. While I fear certain matchups over others, nothing would be sweeter than to beat the Ravens, Pats and then Packers - THAT would be probably the most impressive run ever. Whoever we get, we just need to play up to our potential on both sides of the ball in every game - it has gotten harder and harder each year to keep going after a title so now is the time . . .

ricardisimo
11-22-2011, 09:58 PM
7-3 - and tied for first in the conference - is a slow start?

Drizztbob
11-22-2011, 10:24 PM
Well constructed post. And I believe you are pretty accurate in most of your assumptions. I'm hoping we get the opportunity to shut the door on the birds in the postseason. Time will tell.

Bayz101
11-23-2011, 12:22 AM
7-3 - and tied for first in the conference - is a slow start?

Well, Green Bay is undefeated and number one in the NFL. 7-3 is not slow by any means, but even Tomlin acknowledges it's by far NOT what he expects out of this team. Here's to a 13-3 season and a run deep, deep into the playoffs, and maybe even a bite at our 7th Lombardi!

:tt02:

Whodis
11-23-2011, 07:33 AM
My concern is how "inconsistent" the Steelers tend to be. Take the Jaguars game, the offense comes out hitting the hell out of 83, moving the ball and just taking it to them. Second half we come out trying to hit Wallace and Brown for some bombs = sacks and 3 and outs.

The defense will go into some kind of soft cover 2 when we get a lead.

I know what its like to root for bad Steelers teams (so I am happy for the talent).

But how the hell did Green Bay become so great and the Steelers are "above average"?

LayingTheWoodley56
11-23-2011, 08:55 AM
@ricardisimo - I clearly say I'm referring to the first four games (blowout @ BAL, barely beating Indy, lackluster loss to Houston.) I think we were all a little worried that we were headed for a bad off-year. As I say in the post, we have picked it up since then and are now on solid footing. Doesn't seem like you read the ent ire thing.

LayingTheWoodley56
11-23-2011, 09:46 AM
and @steelfury02 - you make an excellent point I should have put into my post. These guys are already immortalized. How many core groups of guys have had the success that our core has had? The 70's Steelers, 80's-90's Niners, 90's Cowboys, 00's Patriots probably all trump us simply because they won three or four titles apiece. But go back to 2004, Ben's first season. Our core - using the word "core" in its stricest sense here so not counting valuable, solid players like Keis, Foote, Clark, etc. or younger guys who came on a little later like Lamarr and Timmons - of Ben, Hines, Case, Farrior, Polamalu and maybe you'd even throw Starks in that group as the starting LT for all those years - has had ridiculous success. Just a snapshot of those seven seasons, this 7-3 start being the eighth:

- Set a then AFC-record with 15 wins in 2004
- Two Super Bowl titles
- Three AFC titles
- Four division titles
- Five playoff berths overall (the one wild card year ending in a Super Bowl
- Hosted four AFC Championship games (an underrated stat - 4 in 7 years !?)
- An 87-38 record including playoffs

If those achievements aren't immortalized in the parity-driven world of today's NFL, then the price of immortality has gone up.

So many members of Steeler Nation complain every week - about coaching, about playcalling, about Ben, about mistakes on defense, about Mendy's constant shucking and jiving, about pretty much everything. Such is the nature of being a fan, and a player for that matter, we always focus more on the bad then the good. Look at these numbers from the past decade though and tell me we have anything to complain about. We should all take a walk in the shoes of Bills fans, or Jets fans, or Dolphins fans, or Lions fans for chrissakes. I would say Browns fans too but no one wants to do that.

Whodis
11-23-2011, 10:01 AM
. We should all take a walk in the shoes of Bills fans, or Jets fans, or Dolphins fans, or Lions fans for chrissakes. I would say Browns fans too but no one wants to do that.

A lot of us did...... Not all of us started rooting for the steelers 6 years ago

Up until recently, a good year consisted of Neil O'Donnell throwing interceptions to the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. This is a good team! The Steelers are not immune to shitty quarterbacks and terrible seasons. This is the most talented offensive unit I have ever seen. When Woodley gets back I believe this defense is gonna be pretty hard to do anything against.

To see this offense sputter, just gets me a little upset once in a while. To add insult to injury, lets say that seeing John Kuhn do the "Lambeau Leap" doesn't exactly bring a tear to my eye.

ricardisimo
11-23-2011, 10:31 AM
@ricardisimo - I clearly say I'm referring to the first four games (blowout @ BAL, barely beating Indy, lackluster loss to Houston.) I think we were all a little worried that we were headed for a bad off-year. As I say in the post, we have picked it up since then and are now on solid footing. Doesn't seem like you read the ent ire thing.
My apologies. I did not. Just my knee-jerk reaction to a whole lot of complaining from us spoiled Steelers fans, that's all.
:drink:

LayingTheWoodley56
11-23-2011, 10:40 AM
it's okay ricardisimo and as you can see above i am criticizing those who do complain about the great football team we have to watch..see my post thats up right now on ben too i am actually an uncommonly optimistic and grateful fan, i recognize what we have here..whodis i resent the insiuation that i somehow am less knowledgable about the team. first of all i didnt start rooting for them six years ago ive been following the team religiously since 2001 when i was ten years old. i became a steeler fan living in new york with no influences encouraging me to do so. all im saying is, we've had it pretty damn good with the six super bowl titles and all, plus what 8 afc championship games in 15 years? not too shabby.

LayingTheWoodley56
11-23-2011, 10:42 AM
most teams would consider a good year to be their quarterback throwing interceptions in the SUPER BOWL. we need to put this all in perspective here. Viewed against the rest of the league, losing a bunch of AFC championship games at home or falling short in the SB last year is pretty damn good.

Whodis
11-23-2011, 11:06 AM
i resent the insiuation that i somehow am less knowledgable about the team. first of all i didnt start rooting for them six years ago ive been following the team religiously since 2001 when i was ten years old. i became a steeler fan living in new york with no influences encouraging me to do so. all im saying is, we've had it pretty damn good with the six super bowl titles and all, plus what 8 afc championship games in 15 years? not too shabby.

dont resent... i wasn't trying to call you a bandwagon or anything close. i was trying to point out the fact that there was a time when the Steelers were not that good. Trying to bring to light that it is possible this team needs to strike while the iron is hot. Maybe the Steelers will be this good for another 10 years? Odds are... we won't be. Good qb's like ben don't come around too often.

My concern is with being inconsistent. Understand?

smheart78
11-23-2011, 12:21 PM
Whodis, Yes, I follow that. The point being that experiencing the heartbreaking '95 Super bowl loss to the 'F'in' Cowboys, and all those AFC losses make the experience of winning that much sweeter. I grew up near Pittsburgh, and didn't really understand all of the bitterness towards the team throughout the 80s until I was in high school and Cowher just took over. Then I got to experience all the failures of a great team until 2005.
LayingTheWoodley56, great posts so far. :tt04:

Fire Arians
11-23-2011, 12:27 PM
slow start = shaky o-line. as soon as we got starks back our season started to look much better