Even the biggest Pittsburgh homer would have to admit that the Steelers organization has had its share of good fortune over the last five decades.
From the Immaculate Reception in 1972 to Jackie Smith dropping the ball against the Steelers in the Super Bowl in 1979, the Seahawks shooting themselves in the foot with penalties in Super Bowl XL to the Bengals taking Giovani Bernard in the 2013 NFL Draft instead of Le’Veon Bell — thanks again, as always, Bengals! — the Steelers have been blessed, long before there was even a hashtag blessed.
And if there is one thing we can glean from the first two games of this Steelers season, it’s that good fortune is shining down on the team again. No, not just because the Steelers have made it two whole games without Ben Roethlisberger getting injured AND without Bell getting injured or suspended. Those two facts are indeed great and amazing and probably the upset of the young season. I mean that the Steelers are fortunate to be 2-0, one of only eight 2-0 teams still remaining in the NFL, despite not putting up an even B-level performance yet.
While some said this would be the season the Steelers offense finally reached its full potential, with Roethlisberger, Bell, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant all actually on the field at the same time, the Steelers have only scored 47 points through two games, and Bell has yet to reach the end zone. Not terrible, but not threatening any league scoring records or winning you your fantasy league. And while the offense hasn’t yet looked like the world beaters we hoped it would be, we also still have zero idea if the revamped Steeler defense is any good at all.
Pittsburgh had the good fortune of opening up the season against the Cleveland Browns with DeShone Kizer making his first pro start — and still almost had the quarterback a 4-8 Notre Dame team last year lead the Browns to a comeback victory in Week 1. Then, in Week 2, six days after Sam Bradford lit it up on Monday Night Football, the Steelers got to feast at home on a Vikings team that was forced to play Case Keenum at quarterback when Bradford got scratched late with a knee injury.
But at least we’ll learn what kind of team the Steelers are in Week 3, right? Nope. Because the Steelers’ run of schedule luck rolls on with a trip to Chicago to visit the awful Bears.
To recap: Pittsburgh’s season opens up with games against DeShone Kizer, Case Keenum and Mike Glennon. We don’t yet know if the Steelers are an NFL contender, but they definitely could do some damage against CFL talent. Barring a massive misstep on Sunday – and the Mike Tomlin Steelers have been prone to those (see: Steelers at Jets, Week 10 of 2014) – Pittsburgh will be sitting at 3-0 and we’ll still have zero idea if they’re any good.
So Week 4 will be a true test then? Eh. They play at Baltimore. The Ravens have a good defense, so that will serve as a nice check on Roethlisberger and friends, but the decimated, Joe Flacco-led Baltimore offense shouldn’t test the defense too much.
Week 5 brings the Jacksonville Jaguars to town, yet another game in which Pittsburgh will be heavy favorites. And so that means we’ll head to mid-October with the Steelers undefeated or 4-1 at the very worst, still with not a clue if the team is really legit. Despite winning the division last year and reaching the AFC title game, the Steelers have the 27th-easiest schedule of the 32 NFL teams, based on their opponents’ 2016 records.
The schedule does get a good bit tougher from mid-October on, with trips to Kansas City, Detroit and Houston, and visits to Heinz Field by the Titans, Packers and Patriots. But if the Steelers’ good luck continues – and history says it will – Aaron Rodgers will be absent to injury and Tom Brady to cheating suspension, and T.J. Watt will instead get to chase Brett Hundley and Jimmy Garoppolo around the backfield.
The Steelers might be good. They might just be okay. We don’t know. What we do know is that there’s a saying that goes: “it’s better to be lucky than good,” and years of Steelers football, and two weeks of the 2017 season, has showed us there’s some truth to it.
I’m very happy to have good fortune shine down on the team all season long and find myself wondering in mid-February if the 19-0, seven-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers are actually any good.