Undefeated Regular Season or Not, the Steelers will Feel Pressure in Playoffs

I suppose it’s normal for Steelers fans to worry about things like whether the team should lose its first game to, you know, take the pressure off.

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger. Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann, Getty Image via The SteelersWire

It’s probably been a common concern throughout history for most fanbases of teams that, like Pittsburgh, have made it through nine games without a single defeat. I get it, you feel the pressure, it’s enormous. It’s like a balloon that continues to expand every week.

  • When will it happen?
  • When will the bubble finally burst?

You need to appreciate what losing feels like. You think the Steelers need to know what losing feels like. You believe this will humble them. You theorize this will provide an opportunity for them to work on things that they may currently be overlooking during their 9-0 start to the 2020 campaign.

But, most importantly, you just think they need to get that first loss out of the way before the playoffs. Does matching the 1972 Dolphins’ feat of going undefeated all the way through the Super Bowl matter? It does if Pittsburgh can actually pull it off, of course.

However, what if the Steelers get through the regular season without a single mark in the loss column–something that only the ’72 Miami team and the 2007 Patriots have been able to pull off in the modern era–but lose in the postseason? That fate befell the ’07 New England team, and it happened in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLII. The Patriots went from 18-0 to 18-no! thanks to former Steeler Plaxico Burress‘s championship-clinching touchdown catch with just seconds remaining.

In many ways, that loss to the Giants shaped New England’s extended championship run–some say it’s the greatest dynasty in the history of professional sports–as much as those six Lombardi trophies.

But at least the Patriots endured that loss in the middle of what would turn out to be an unprecedented Super Bowl era.

  • If the same thing happens to the Steelers, they’ll have no recent Super Bowl victories to hang their hat on.
  • Damn it, they should lose and just get it out of the way!

Why? Do you think the Steelers will feel any less pressure if they enter the postseason with a loss or three on their record?

Former players whose teams got off to similar starts to the Steelers have talked about the enormous pressure they felt and how that all seemed to go away with a loss. But with all due respect to folks who experienced something I admittedly never have, they were going to experience the weight of the playoff moment whether they entered the dance with one loss, four losses or zero losses.

  • I believe the pressure of going undefeated only pertains to the regular season.

Once you’re in the playoffs, the pressure one feels is like the wetness one experiences while submerged in water–wet is wet.

It’s the postseason. It’s do or die. It’s win or go home. When it comes to the Steelers, they always feel the pressure to succeed in the playoffs. And it’s not just making it there and winning a game. It’s not just advancing to the Super Bowl. Nothing but a Lombardi trophy and a parade (excluding this year, I’m guessing) will ever be good enough.

As it pertains to most NFL players, do you honestly think they feel any less pressure as a 13-3 team instead of one that’s “chasing history”? Aren’t all Super Bowl contenders chasing history? I mean, if you enter the postseason with the best record and a bye, folks are going to expect you to exit the postseason with a Super Bowl title.

I don’t know why the Patriots lost in Super Bowl XLII, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because they were under overwhelming pressure to go undefeated. Were they asked about their chances of going 19-0 a lot over the course of the season? Yes, but it didn’t seem to get in their way until they met up with a Giants team that had a great front-four that made life miserable for Tom Brady.

While speaking with the media on Wednesday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the team’s goal was to win a Super Bowl, not go undefeated.

  • Kudos to him, but that’s how it’s always been in Pittsburgh.

It will be the goal this postseason, as well, whether the Steelers enter undefeated or not.

 

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