The Steelers got a rare win without Troy Polamalu in the lineup Thursday night. Get one more win, and Pittsburgh will get a their fourth first round playoff bye in the last ten years.
Pittsburgh destroyed Carolina 27-3 in a game that was over by halftime. This is what quality teams should do when they host the worst team in the league on a short week. Even if it wasn’t always pretty, the Steelers got the job done just like they have most of the season.
It’s easy to take Pittsburgh’s 11-4 record for granted. It’s also easy to forget that this was a team widely predicted to come in second in their division or miss the playoffs entirely. They went 3-1 with backup quarterbacks and have survived losing two starting tackles. They learned to play without their second most valuable defensive player (Aaron Smith).
Almost everything changes in the NFL, but the Steelers defense is a constant. They were already first in the league in points allowed before shutting down the Panthers. They were third in total defense before holding Carolina to a pathetic 119 offensive yards.
The Steelers now have 10 days off until their season finale against the Browns. Win that game, and they get another two weeks off before a home playoff game. By then, Polamalu and Smith should be back in the mix. Roethlisberger will be healthier.
The regular season is about survival and positioning. This isn’t a perfect Steelers team, but their last two championship squads had flaws too.
After 16 weeks, the Steelers are just where they want to be.