Pittsburgh Steelers

Even Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn’t sure his once-tough team is physical enough anymore to stand up to the rival Ravens.

That’s how far the Steelers have fallen. But anyone who thinks they’ve reached rock bottom hasn’t seen the team’s brutal schedule down the stretch.

It could get much, much worse, starting this Sunday against those 8-3 Ravens.

Things are so bad in the 412 area code, some say the best but bitter medicine for the delusional, 5-5-1 Steelers just might be a rout by those Ravens. It could finally spur a much-needed, top-to-bottom rebuild in Pittsburgh.

There was a time earlier in the season – and especially after that stirring game against the Chargers that was ultimately lost -- when some Steelers fans were entertaining the thought of Ben Roethlisberger returning in 2022.

Such Steelers’ delusions are dangerous. In wake of the Bengals’ 41-10 beatdown and Roethlisberger’s egregious interceptions, this idea is mercifully dying.

The mood now is to move on from Big Ben. But most Steelers fans haven’t accepted the fact that this is just for openers.

A majority of Steelers’ fans are still fully expecting their proud Pittsburgh team to circle the wagons and put up a pounding, physical game against the arch-rival Ravens this Sunday at Heinz Field.

In other words, the Steelers can’t get any worse, these fans insist.

This could be the biggest and most dangerous delusion of all. Just as it was delusional to think bringing Big Ben back at age 39 and slower than a snail would result in a playoff Swan Song.

The Steelers brass were obviously smoking something when they thought they could replace aging All Pros up-and-down the offensive line with no-name players and rookies on the cheap.

Even team President Art Rooney II mistakenly believed that all it would take to revive the once-vaunted Steelers running game was drafting a rookie from Alabama and plugging in Najee Harris behind that shoddy Steelers blocking.

None of it has worked.

The Steelers are in freefall.

A punishing NFL schedule awaits a team that’s no longer capable of being physical on either side of the football. Pittsburgh, once known for punching teams in the mouth, is the punching bag now.

Only complete and utter obliteration for the remainder of the season will convince some in Pittsburgh that it’s past time to just blow it up and start over.

A few Steelers’ analysts insist this level of nihilistic annihilation of the 2021 Steelers must happen in order to dispel the last of those lingering Steelers’ delusions that led to the disaster we are witnessing right now.

The Steelers need to fail spectacularly, beginning Sunday vs. the Ravens, in order to bring about the house-cleaning cleanse of a complete rebuild.

Another patented non-losing season under Tomlin would be the worst-case scenario. It would keep alive the flickering belief that the Steelers are a player or two away.

They aren’t.

We have much more on the sorry state of the Steelers – and a strong argument for a failed season as the best medicine – in this ‘blue pill’ edition of your Steelers Update Podcast. So listen and weep.

NOTE : New episodes of the Steelers Update are available every Wednesday afternoon on PennLive.com and wherever podcasts are found, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Podcasts.

Or simply click and listen right here, right now:

Former Pittsburgh players, like a slack-jawed Ryan Clark on ESPN, see it. These aren’t the Steelers they played for. The standard has slipped. The physical punishment that used to accompany playing the Pittburgh is gone. The Steelers are a soft touch. Opponents no longer fear them.

Damn.@Realrclark25 taking everyone to church.

pic.twitter.com/ks8qkKpKD4

— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) November 29, 2021

As the clear-eyed Clark accurately noted, the Steelers team that rolled over for the Bengals had “absolutely no physicality,” and the defense “couldn’t stop a nosebleed.”

Bottom line for an emotional Clark: “They’re not my beloved Steelers anymore.”

No, Ryan, they’re not.

I found yesterday to be the most embarrassing loss of Mike Tomlin's career. pic.twitter.com/t9lXRiFdoY

— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 29, 2021

Without the physical part of the Pittsburgh football team, the once-rivalry game vs. the Ravens could devolve into a rollover rout on Sunday. How in the world will the Steelers stop the Ravens’ running game?

Coach Mike Tomlin says it’s “put up and shut up time.” But the words he uttered at his weekly press conference belie a shaken confidence in his once physical team. The players he and GM Kevin Colbert have assembled aren’t winning the most import battle anymore. That being the individual battle with themselves to improve every day, every week.

This is insane. Look at how bad Devin Bush’s recognition is. Watch how long he stands flat-footed after the ball is snapped. This is absolutely amazing. pic.twitter.com/Aglv94T3W8

— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) November 28, 2021

Tomlin knows if you aren’t competing – and winning -- with yourself, you have little hope of doing the same with an opponent.

Ben Roethlisberger was the offense’s worst individual performer Sunday in Cincinnati in the eyes of PFF’s scouts.

From: @fugimaster24 ⬇️https://t.co/jSaVTfK0la

— Post-Gazette Sports (@PGSportsNow) November 30, 2021

“Effort,” Tomlin said. “That man vs. himself battle. We have to challenge ourselves and dig down deep and be at our best in an effort to meet those challenges.”

Pittsburgh teams of the past rose to such challenges. This team doesn’t seem capable of doing so. Ryan Clark sees it. Same with Rocky Bleier. Even Tomlin admits these sharp-eyed ex-Steelers just might be right.

“They would know,” Tomlin when told of the ex-players’ critical comments at his press conference.

Tomlin on music pic.twitter.com/aLH24fXlPD

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) November 30, 2021

With that, the 2021 Steelers have lost before even taking the field. The team’s once prideful physical identity has been stripped away.

OMG WE JUST CAN’T WIN🤦‍♀️ pic.twitter.com/NtbdIlwjhD

— flyers bae 89🧡🖤 (@nicole31943635) November 29, 2021

Now, a home game awaits against a division rival. The Heinz Field stands will swell with Steelers’ fans hoping against hope the outcome will somehow be different. That the Steelers will rise up. That they’ll muster just enough to beat the Ravens and remain alive for the NFL’s expanded playoffs.

Sunday against the Ravens might be the most important game of Mike Tomlin's career. There has to be a rebound. There has to better play. There has to be that sense of urgency.

— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) November 29, 2021

This could be the most damaging outcome of all. It would only prolong the delusion – and the agony.

No, The best way to help your favorite football team just might be rooting for a big Ravens rout this Sunday at Heinz Field.

Who would’ve thought? But here we are.

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John Luciew is an award-winning reporter for PennLive and a 25-year Steelers season ticket-holder. His column and podcast are presented from the obsessively over-informed perspective of an avid Steelers’ fan. Check out his latest Steelers podcast every Wednesday afternoon wherever podcasts are found.

Source : https://www.pennlive.com/sports/2021/12/ravens-could-do-steelers-a-favor-by-routing-them-on-sunday.html

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