PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – This could have been so much different.
There could have been some room for a moral victory, a show-us-a-good-performance kind of game and we would be satisfied. Yep, if things had gone differently to this point, the Steelers might have been in a position where they simply needed to play well — to play toe to toe with the Kansas City Chiefs — and we would have accepted it. Even if it would have resulted in a narrow loss, one of those down-to-the-wire ones that just didn’t go your way.
But forget that now.
That can’t happen; that’s not an option.
The Steelers screwed that all up.
More to the point, the Steelers’ offense screwed that all up. Man, have they underachieved. I just can’t believe how they have underachieved this season — it really is something.
You see, now, there’s no room for a moral victory as the Steelers head to Kansas City to play a Chiefs team that is 5-0 and has scored an NFL-leading 164 points. The crazy part? There could have been room for one; a moral victory might have been sufficient.
Is this a “must win” for the 3-2 Steelers on Sunday? Not entirely. But I will tell you this much, nothing they do short of winning the football game can be deemed a positive, no matter how good they look. They must win for anyone to walk away and be satisfied to any degree. It doesn’t matter how many yards they accumulate, how great the offense clicks, how good the run or pass game looks, all that is satisfactory now is a win.
And, you know what, it didn’t need to be that way. Again, they screwed this all up. With terrible and inexplicable losses to the Jaguars and Bears in the first five weeks, the Steelers made a total mess of what was supposed to be — at the very least — probably a 4-1 mark and maybe even a 5-0 record headed into this date at Arrowhead.
If the Steelers come into this one at 4-1 or 5-0 and lose? Eh, so what. But not now.
But as the nation watches this game on Sunday in that building that seems like the loudest one in the NFL right now, the Steelers have to win or the questions get deeper, the finger-pointing gets sharper and I’m guessing we might be in for another week, next week, of some kind of drama.
I don’t know what will play out with the rest of the Steelers’ season. They might go on a torrid run and hit their expectations. Conversely, they might keep stumbling and stumble their way through mediocrity for the whole season. I don’t know, can’t call it.
What I do know is, coming out of camp, you would have been hard-pressed to find someone who thought they would be 3-2 right now. But because they are, because of the terrible losses, a game like this against the Chiefs where we otherwise might have given the Steelers a free pass becomes pretty darn close to one you have to win.
Now is when losing to people like Mike Glennon and Blake Bortles really hurts you, because it forces you to be pretty much perfect against a team quarterbacked by Alex Smith, who might be having the best season of anyone in the league right now.
It really is crazy to think how the Steelers have screwed this up.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.