With only four games left in the regular season of the NFL Week 14 was the pinnacle for many teams to make or keep their position heading towards the playoffs. The Pittsburgh Steelers had a lot to lose where the Arizona Cardinals were fighting for pride. Let’s take a look at what happened in the game and what we can look for going forward.
A Team that Travels Well.
his game was played in Arizona, but if you looked at the tv screen during the game, you could easily mistake it for Pittsburgh. There was a phenomenal amount of Steelers fans waving with their terrible towels.
This, in no small way, had an enormous effect on the players of both teams. The Steelers players have many, many times mentioned in interviews how much it boosts their energy. Hearing the fans scream and chant when they are in another city shows how much they are loved by many. While on the other side, the Cardinals, or any home team for that matter, find it disheartening that their own fans are largely outnumbered. It can make or break a team’s mentality.
Devlin Hodges, known as Duck to friends and fans, probably never thought at pre-season that he would be at the helm of his team this deep into the season and looking towards the playoffs. But life is a funny thing sometimes. The number of hurdles the Steelers have overcome and then regroup only to grow strong has been many this year.
However, as has been shown by the Steelers many times, they can adapt and move on and keep competing while Hodges isn’t putting up huge numbers yet. He is moving the ball enough, including running when needed or available, to get the job done.
A True Team Effort
The Steelers have gone through an awful of trials and tribulations over the 2019 season. However, now that we have reached Week 14, the Steelers seem to be in a comfortable place. All facets of the team will help create a win. The defense steps up when it needs to, keeping opponents at a low score. Special teams also have been making plays, backing up a young quarterback.
Let us not forget one of the biggest things helping the team is the man who can’t play right now. Ben Roethlisberger may not be playing in week 14, or any other week this season. But he is making a significant impact not only on his replacements but the rest of the offense as well. He goes over plays with them, suggests what play to do, and keeps them focused in between. These are things that you cannot teach, some people are just natural leaders, and Roethlisberger is one of those guys.
A Strong Coach.
Sure, sometimes coach Mike Tomlin will make a questionable call. But you have to look at the bigger picture. Tomlin has kept his team together and focused, especially with all the issues that could have thrown them off track. The one play call that made it easy for those who want to, to criticize his coaching was an attempted fake punt.
Of course, it is easy to say it was a bad call when it doesn’t work. However, if it did, the talk would have been about how gutsy a call it was. But all in all, it was a trick play, meant to catch the Cardinals off guard. It may not have worked, but the Steelers were able to maintain their lead regardless. And calling a play like that will make your opponent never quite sure what you will do next. Which, of course, is what a head coach wants.
Whether it is week one or week 14, the Steelers will not go quietly into that good night. There is a strong team feeling in this team, that while it has been shaken at times. It will never be lost entirely. Now they are the projected sixth seed in the playoffs and control their own destiny. The NFL is taking notice as well since their week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills has been flexed into prime time, Sunday night.
This game provides the NFL with a more exciting game than the one they moved between the Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings. The shift helps the Steelers more than the Bills. The Steelers shine in primetime, they love the spotlight and being at home in this situation is gold for them. So even with the Bills playing as strong as they have this year, they are not going to be able to roll over their Pittsburgh nemesis.
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