Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Time to believe in the Steelers

Dec 22, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le

To say Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns is the most important game for the Pittsburgh Steelers in quite a while is an understatement. While needing a lot of help, a victory against the Browns could propel the Steelers into the postseason. And when one thinks about how the season started for the black and gold, it would be quite an achievement for the storied franchise.

As I said, a victory alone wouldn’t be enough to propel them into the playoffs, they still would need the Dolphins, Ravens, and Chargers to all lose, but as we’ve seen with the 2013 season, nothing is ever impossible or improbable. Now if they played all year how they’ve played the last two weeks, the Steelers would be waltzing into another postseason birth. Last week’s win against Green Bay was a capsule of the entire season :good, bad, and ugly. The good was watching Le’Veon Bell out rush fellow rookie Eddie Lacy, the defense scoring a TD, and the team overcoming questionable officiating and coaching. And why mention the bad and ugly when the end result was a win for our Steelers. At long last, it’s time to finally  believe in this team.

Now I have been as critical, perhaps more so than anyone of the Steelers all  season. I’ve blasted HC Mike Tomlin for his game management and other questionable decisions (and his lack of sideline awareness), I’ve called out OC Todd Haley and DC Dick Lebeau and even went so far as to suggest it was never too early to start breaking this bunch up. However, these last two weeks have revived my faith and belief in this team. It’s taken fourteen games, but they are playing Steeler football : scoring on defense, running the ball and letting Ben Roethlisberger do what he does best. Come what may this Sunday, I’m a believer once again. While Bell hasn’t exactly brought back memories of ‘The Bus’ or Franco (or even Barry Foster), he has proved to be a solid receiver out of the backfield. And Jerricho Cotchery has given us the best season of his career. Antonio Brown has solidified his stature as a no. 1 receiver and has made people forget Mike Wallace. And I couldn’t be happier to see Cam Heyward prove me wrong about him, turning in a solid season and providing the team with someone young to build a defense around. I was equally wrong about OLB Jason Worilds, even though he won’t be back next year due to cap issues; he has picked up the slack from Lamar Woodley (who SHOULDN’T be back next year). And yes, first round pick Jarvis Jones has struggled, but ILB Lawrence Timmons has been solid. I’m happy that Brett Keisel will be around for one more year, but I get the feeling that we are seeing the final few games of Troy Polamalu’s Pittsburgh career. David Decastro has struggled with injuries lately, but he’s come along nicely this year, and Fernando Velasco was a solid free agent signing before getting hurt. If I’m the Pittsburgh brass, I find a way to bring him back. I think an interior of Decastro-Pouncey-Velasco would be a solid group heading into the 2014 season.

We all know changes will have to be made and much has been written about the team’s cap issues and Ben’s fractured relationship with Todd Haley, all of which will play out when the season ends. Worilds and WR Emmanuel Sanders are all but gone and Woodley, Polamalu and Ryan Clark will probably be joining them. I still view Ziggy Hood as a bust but I like Al Woods in the rotation. Switching to a 4-3 alignment next season isn’t out of the realm of possibility, especially with some good DL help available in the middle rounds of next year’s draft. However, I’ll worry about all that when the time comes. For now, I’m just happy to find the Steelers still in the playoff conversation. But I’m tired of being a negative Nancy, I bleed black and gold and I’ll be praying to the football Gods come this Sunday for them to find a way for the Steelers to get into the playoffs. I have a feeling if they can get into the post season, they could make some noise.

It’s taken almost the entire season, but I believe in the 2013 Steelers……do you???


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  • Redman

    I believe! Why not? I’ve seen a definite improvement the last few weeks on both sides of the ball. It’s nice to read a positive article unlike “negative nancy” articles by Dom Di Tolla most of the season! Anyway until the season is done I’ll always believe, STEELERS 4 LIFE! Call me a glass half full kinda guy! So here we go steelers here we go :) and greetings to the steeler nation all the way from Australia!

  • skyfire322

    I thought the season was lost back in week 7 or week 8. I kept watching the infamous Jim Mora presser, just waiting to hear Tomlin say something similar! I honestly didn’t think this could happen.

  • Redman

    Would also hate to see Troy go! Love seeing him do the unpredictable, keeping the other teams guessing, maybe abit slower this year, but I’d be happy to see Ryan Clarke go off to ESPN! and hopefully Jarvis Jones will step up next year…

  • [email protected]

    What a frontrunner you are, Scott Sinclair! Typical of the modern media, making hay by abusing people, then turning around and praising them when things go your way…… NOT a true Steelers fan. Heyward should have been playing at least a year ago, and I never understood why he got shoved to the bench given Ziggy’s performance. What did they have to lose in giving Heyward a couple game tryout? Of course, despite his lack of chances you called him a ‘bust’. EVERYONE needs to give this team/coaches another chance – how many teams could have come back from an 0-4 start to even be relevant at this point? Kudos to Tomlin (yes, even though he has flaws) for keeping their heads in the game this long. Dump Woodley and we CAN re-sign Worilds. Looking back, this will be remembered as the year that we almost made the playoffs despite breaking in a new generation of great Steelers.

    • Craig

      It’s a stretch to call this team ‘relevant.’ Starting 0-4 and then potentially finishing 8-8 and playoff bound does not make a team relevant. It just means after the four division winners, the rest of the AFC suuuuuuucks. The back log of under .500 teams that were still competing for the 6th playoff seed a few weeks ago was simply mind boggling. How does that make a team ‘relevant?’

      Tomlin and Co. are currently in their SECOND chance with me after last season’s dumpster fire of a season. Don’t forget, they didn’t just start 0-4. They lost 12 games straight since the 2012 season (including preseason). Relevant? More like LUCKY to be in this position.

      • scott sinclair

        The NFL as a whole is mediocre. I think Roger Goodell’s quest for parity has turned into mediocrity to be honest and the NFL is a few more severe injuries away from becoming a flag football league. Look at the 2-13 Texans..they are viewed as being the dream job for 2014. A 2-13 team a dream job! As for the Steelers, if not for Antonio Brown stepping out of bounds against Miami, we’d be in a much better position. And after the start we had (and despite our head coach), the fact that the playoffs are even in the realm of possibility, who cares if it’s luck?

    • scott sinclair

      To say I am not a true Steeler fan is total ignorance on your part. A true fan has every right to point out the negatives, call out the coaches, call out the players, etc and then praising them when they deserve it. I have been a Steeler fan since 1975, through the glory years and the lean late 80′s years. I’ve cheered and cried with them. So don’t EVER say I am not a true fan or call me a front runner my friend.

      As far as Heyward goes, yes, he up until now was a poor performing former 1st round pick. What’s wrong with calling it like it is? Lack of chances or not, he didn’t perform when in. Now that he’s finally playing well I’m giving him credit. Again, what’s wrong with that?
      Lastly, why the heck am I justifying myself to you?

      • [email protected]

        Maybe a bit strong on my part (I remember seeing games at Pitt Stadium with my Dad in like 1964…), so apologies – the last thing we need to do in a year like this is turn on our own.
        However, my point on Heyward is this – you can’t perform if you don’t see the field. And Heyward was not even ‘test driven’ adequately in his first couple years (why do we do it that way even when we recognize that we DON’T have the talent we used to???). By relevant, I mean NOT being eliminated by week 17 which is something that probably 18 other teams have already seen like my buddy’s Jets, and worse. We are not a GREAT team but we are certainly not a TERRIBLE team. To wit, some positives this year amid the gloom – the development of a threat (albeit not a 100 yd/gm rushing threat) in Bell to go along with a pretty stellar receiving corps; the blossoming of Brown into a true Pro Bowl-caliber #1 receiver; the continuing excellence of Ben despite ‘early athletic old age’ AND his full-season health (2nd time in his whole career right?); the resurrection of our O line from car wreck into less than 1 sack/gm in the last few games (despite MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR injury/dislocation); the ABSENCE OF STUPID PENALTIES compared to last year (remember?); the best special teams in a number of years (although not necessarily where we want them to be just yet); we need to view this in long term rather than just this year. And finally, we don’t need to justify our comments to each other – they are comments/opinions after all right? Chill……

        • scott sinclair

          I think the biggest hindrance to any defensive rookie getting playing time is that LeBeau’s schemes are tough to pick up. Now that he’s had a few years in the system I guess the coaches felt it was time to unleash Heyward. Hood on the other hand has done nothing.
          I think the Steelers are very relevant at this point. Like I said, if they can get into the playoffs, they could be dangerous.

  • Jeff Johnson

    I believe in the offense and see a bright future but the defense needs much work to believe in it