Ordinarily when you’re heading into a bye week, you have at most one loss to mull over. Because the Pittsburgh Steelers are only on a ‘mini-bye’ following a Thursday night game, they face a situation in which they are coming off of two losses in the same week.
That’s a lot to think about. And different players had different responses about what that extra time they will have will mean for the team going forward, particularly those on defense chiming in as they stew over giving up another lead.
“This one is going to be on the pot simmering for a while”, defensive captain Cameron Heyward told reporters from the locker room last night, via team transcripts. “We all have to own it. I am going to wear this and I am going to be better because of it”.
Such a remark invokes the sort of comments that head coach Mike Tomlin would make following a frustrating loss. Wearing it, owning it, stewing in it. That’s what he wants his players to do. And then to do something about it.
“We can’t just be talking about it, there has to be action”, outside linebacker Alex Highsmith said after the game. “We have a long week ahead of us. We will review the film and get back to a long week on Monday and get back to it”.
Except that they won’t be getting back on Monday. Cornerback Cameron Sutton said that there will be guys in the building today. Still, he didn’t personally read much into the timing of the bye week, beyond its restorative value. “It does give us a couple of days to get rested and go into the next week”, he said.
Whether or not the Steelers can benefit substantially from having a couple of extra days before they take the field again, I think the fans at this point can appreciate the respite following three frustrating games to open the season. The Steelers are sitting at 1-2 and they by rights should be 0-3 if not for an injury to a long snapper in the opener that contributed to a blocked extra point that would have won the game rather than sending it into overtime.
The Steelers held a 14-13 lead for about 16 minutes between four minutes to go in the first half and the end of the third quarter when the Browns scored on a field goal, although it would not prove to be the game-winning points. They never did regain even a share of the lead, however, at any point in the final 17 minutes.
So what comes next? I think for many fans, it just feels like we’re now running out the clock until two players make their appearance, or in the case of the defense, the reappearance, for T.J. Watt, who must still miss at least two more games while on the Reserve/Injured List.
I don’t even have to tell you who we’re waiting for on offense, but I’ll give you a hint: it’s not Calvin Austin III.