Hopefully you were a better student than I was. And if you were, then you’ll likely be smart enough to follow me on this even if you never had the same experience.
But did you ever walk into class expecting to bomb a test? Like, “Holy crap I thought this thing was next week and I haven’t even cracked the binding of the book. I’ll be lucky to even get a “C” on this” kind of bad. Then after taking the test you walk away saying ”Wow! That was easier than I thought. I may have even gotten an “A” on that sucker!”
Then a couple days later you get the test back and…”C”.
“Wait, C?! But it went so well. I deserved better than that!”
Well, jackass, no you didn’t because you walked in without studying and you probably deserved an “F” if the test wasn’t so easy!
This internal monologue trip of mine down memory lane to my days skating by in Algebra II was conjured by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Because, basically, that’s my take on their four game performance without Ben Roethlisberger.
We went in expecting the worst for the Black and Gold without Big Ben. We got fooled into thinking it was going better than it was. Yet when everything was said and done, they won twice and lost twice.
Just like me in Algebra II…a “C” they were lucky to get.
If I said to you before the season started: “Ben is going to miss weeks 4-7. Also Vick, Pouncey, Tuitt, Jones, Beachum, Bryant, both Allens’ and Shazier are going to miss time during that stretch. Two of the games are going to be at home. Two of the games are on the road. All of the opponents had at least nine wins in 2014. And the Steelers are going to split those four games.”
Would that have been enough? I would have had said “yes.”
How about you? Probably, right? Maybe you would have thought they’d win one at the most (looking at you Rodney Harrison). I could’ve been easily swayed into that camp too.
So why, as Steeler fans, aren’t more of us universally satisfied. Sure, some are. And as the weeks pull further away from that pockmarked loss in Kansas City, more of us will view the last four weeks in that manner.
But it’s tough for me to do that right now. Because in that scenario I outlined above, what I didn’t tell you is that:
-After seven games the Steelers would only have one conference win
-They’d lose at Heinz Field to the Ravens who would be winless at the time.
-They’d miss two field goals, drop a touchdown, and blow two overtime possessions in the Ravens’ end of the field in overtime of that game.
-They’d lose to a one-win KC team (playing without Jamal Charles and Jeremy Maclin) after winning the first two of three without Roethlisberger.
-The division leading Bengals would still be unbeaten and coming off a bye as they were set to invade Pittsburgh with Roethlisberger knocking off the rust the very next week.
So…how would you feel at that point?
It’s human nature to get greedy. Pittsburgh had managed two exciting wins against San Diego and Arizona. The now departed kicker could be the reason to explain away defeat vs the Ravens. So why shouldn’t the fan base have been optimistic about going on the road with Landry Jones as the starting QB to make a 3-1 stretch a reality?
Well… because they actually were going on the road with Landry Jones as the starting QB! That’s why. Saying it in theory was a hell of a lot different than seeing it play out on the field. Ask Todd Haley. Ask the Chiefs’ defense.
Our ability to view the big picture of the Steelers’ attempt to navigate the choppy seas without Big Ben sailing the ship is blurred by the circumstances of the games. Obscured by the records of the opponents.
In totality, 2-2 probably was “good enough” on its own merits. But it may not feel that way after next Sunday. That’s when the Steelers are should get back under the command of their talented but recuperating QB. Yet that may not be “good enough” to beat the Bengals. And a loss that day thrusts Pittsburgh back down to .500, and may cede the division to Cincy already.
Certainly, catching the Bengals at that point would be MUCH harder than my final exam in Algebra II.