First off, we got a reminder on Sunday that sometimes, it’s more than just the game. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our week-to-week, live for Sunday, nothing matters more than the outcome of our team mentality. We look at injury reports and say “oh, he’s got an ankle injury, he’ll be fine” like we’re reading a stock tip. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that the people who play game — all games, all sports — are human beings. They have families. They have lives outside the sport. The window they get to play is very brief and the time spent playing at the professional level, a time where football is the concern and focus, amounts to maybe 10 percent of their lives.
With that in mind, don’t try to rush Mason Rudolph back onto the field. Let his body heal. The best news you could hope for all day on Monday is what we got; that he was out of the hospital and visited teammates at the Steelers practice facility on Monday.
As we analyze the game itself, the best news for Pittsburgh fans may have been that they covered the spread. Beyond that, the 26-23 loss to the Ravens may have been the one where people look back and say this was the one where the season slipped away.
How Did the Steelers Not Win That Game Against the Ravens in Week 5?
For a team that’s 1-4 and lost its franchise quarterback in week two, you might say that moment already happened. But against the Ravens, the Steelers did most everything right. They held Baltimore without a touchdown for the final 40 minutes of the game. They erased a 10-point deficit. They made an MVP candidate in Lamar Jackson look average at best throwing the ball. Their own quarterbacks combined for a respectable 83.1 passer rating. Even in overtime, they were able to hold the Ravens off the board in the first possession.
And yet it still wasn’t enough.
When you look at the numbers, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Total yards were within 10 of each other. The Steelers forced more turnovers. They took fewer sacks. Both teams were disastrous in penalties, but even then, Pittsburgh had fewer yards on its infractions.
So it goes back to what we said after a similar result at San Francisco in week three. Maybe the Steelers just aren’t that good. Maybe the collective group of players was way overvalued before the season began. Individually, there is talent, but they aren’t playing well as a collective side.
Steelers Week 6 Preview and Steelers Odds Against the Chargers in Week 6
This loss, in particular, hurts though. The AFC North has been a bad division. A win in this game would have seen three teams tied for the divisional lead at 2-3. Now, Pittsburgh finds itself two games back with 11 to play. A lot, but not completely insurmountable in NFL terms. The trouble here being they lost one of their chances to make up ground on their own against one of the teams ahead of them. No one is going to suggest Baltimore is going to run the table, but if they were to do so, the Steelers couldn’t catch them.
Now Pittsburgh has to get on a plane and fly to the west coast to face a Chargers team that is facing its own conundrum. The Tuesday morning line has the Steelers getting 6.5 points with an over/under of 41. Normally, given the injuries, given the long road trip, given the preseason concepts of what both teams would be, I’d pick Los Angeles to cover. But it’s a Chargers team that stumbled out of the gate and inexplicably lost last week, at home, to the previously winless Broncos. I also present this…While the Steelers haven’t been good enough to win games this season, they’ve been good enough to stay in them. Outside of the Patriots game to open the year, the other three losses have come by a combined nine points. While you are what your record says you are, there has been some bad luck in play.
Is that bad luck enough to overcome and get a win, probably not. But even with luck and working on their third string quarterback, I like the Steelers to cover. I’m not sure where to go with the O/U, but with the way both teams are playing, I don’t see anyone winning by a touchdown.