By Andrew Bernstein
BSD’s “Native Yinzer in the City of Champions” Correspondent
For most of Steelers Nation the TD catch by former Steelers TE Jesse James that was overturned in the eventual Steelers loss to the Patriots two seasons ago was a kick in the proverbial gut. Some might even argue that late season loss in 2017 started the closing of the Steelers championship window during the Ben Roethlisberger era.
Yesterday’s Steelers overtime 23-20 loss provided a same feeling but with the stakes not nearly as high.
The Steelers were playing with house money and the pressure was all on Baltimore. Having said that, the Steelers were on the brink of delivering a season changing win. A victory would have put them right back in the thick of the division.
When the second year Steeler QB Mason Rudolph went down from a bone-crushing hit from Ravens Free Safety Earl Thomas. A collective hush went across Steelers Nation; they were scared for the young Rudolph’s long-term wellbeing and the flickering hope of the 2019 season already on life support.
While the Steelers came up short, there were many positives to take away from this very tough loss to their hated division and geographic rivals. The Steelers D was opportunistic and picked off Ravens QB Lamar Jackson three times yesterday. Rookie LB Devin Bush had 8 tackles and a pick and 3rd string rookie QB Devlin Hodges completed 7 of 9 passes for 68 yards in an emergency backup role. Hodges kept the Steelers in the game and led a drive that gave them the lead. He appeared very comfortable in the pocket, like he has been there before.
Now at 1-4 and 2 games off the division pace, the Steelers schedule does not let up. The black and gold heads to Los Angeles vs the Chargers.
To paraphrase coaching legend Bill Parcells, you are what your record says you are. In this case, we need to cut the Steelers some slack. They have had a pretty tough schedule to date facing the defending champion Patriots, Seattle, traveled out west to play the 49ers, and division rival Bengals and Ravens. And, oh by the way they lost their Hall of Fame QB for the entire season.
Meanwhile, the undefeated Patriots have had a much easier road. Since the opening matchup with the Steelers, they have played those (tongue in cheek) powerhouse Dolphins, the Sam Darnold-less Jets, a somewhat improved Bills team, and a woeful Washington Redskins team, and this weeks upcoming matchup with the 2-3 New York Giants. This also figures to be a laugher for the rolling Patriots.
Bottom line, it’s clear it isn’t shaping up to be the Steelers year. However, if Sunday’s gritty effort continues to be what they put forth each week. What more can you ask for as a fan? The ball just hasn’t bounced right for them.