Have you ever gone to your local grocery and seen a sign on a generic brand that says, “compare to national brand x?”
The whole point is to show that their generic is just as good a quality as the big national name. That’s kind of what the Pittsburgh Steelers have become. They’re your no frills, store brand generic. They don’t have Ben Roethlisberger. They don’t even have Mason Rudolph. The top two players from recent seasons are in New York and self-imposed football purgatory respectively.
And yet this store brand version of the Steelers might just be as good as the National name brand.
At least that’s how it was on Sunday night when Pittsburgh build a 24-point lead on its way to a win at the Chargers. Guys you probably didn’t know before the season or may have only heard of in passing stepping up and keeping the Steelers on life support in the AFC North race.
There was Devlin Hodges, the third QB used by the Steelers this season. A three-time Conference Player of the Year at Samford and the career FCS passing leader. He wasn’t electric, but effective. There was Benny Snell, an All-SEC First Team performer at Kentucky last season, but who only had six touches this season coming into the game. Against LA, he posted 17 carries for 75 yards, spelling James Conner, who has been largely ineffective running the ball this season.
Conner is too dynamic a player to be left out of the offense completely, though. So Pittsburgh got the ball in his hands as part of the passing game; a safety valve for a quarterback making his first career start. Conner had seven catches for 78 yards and a receiving touchdown. The Black and Gold didn’t try to force feed their top targets, but rather spread the ball around as eight different players caught passes, six of them with one grab each.
Can the Steelers Maintain Their Solid Play After the Bye Week
All of these numbers, plus a defense that forced three turnovers helped the store brand Steelers topple Phillip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and the national name Chargers.
There’s a bit of a window here for Pittsburgh, who is on its bye this week. Coming off their breather, the Steelers get Miami on the road before home games against Indianapolis and the Rams. There’s a path to being 4-5 heading into a week 11, Thursday night game at Cleveland. Get to .500 against the Browns and let the chips fall where they mary for the final six weeks of the season. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a longshot for Pittsburgh to make the playoffs at this point and pretty much everything has to go their way, but it’s possible.
Sometimes you just need to trust the store brand is just as good as the national name.