PITTSBURGH — Some people have called what the Pittsburgh Steelers have done this season, being out-gained in nine straight games, while maintaining a 6-3 record, to be unsustainable.
Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward has a message for those people:
Heyward isn’t worried about a lack of statistical dominance and defended his team’s ability to win games when the going gets tough when speaking with reporters on Friday.
“Who are they judging?” Heyward said. “They’re not in this. Smoke and mirrors? Screw you. We worked too hard for this. These guys dedicate their lives. We try to be a good defense. Smoke and mirrors, I think that’s a cloud of smoke?”
The Steelers have been getting it done with the NFL’s best turnover margin, along with key plays in the fourth quarter on both sides of the ball. The team’s defense has given up the eighth-most yards, but the ninth-fewest points through nine games. That bend-but-don’t-break mentality has served the team well, and they don’t care if it means their wins lack style points.
“Coach says it best every week, man,” veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “Our business is winning. And we’re winning.”
The Steelers’ offense has been even more anemic on the stat sheet. The Steelers are 30th in yards, 27th in points and tied for 25th in yards per play. Yet their eight turnovers are the second-fewest in the league, and Kenny Pickett’s fourth-quarter passer rating is fifth amongst quarterbacks with at least 30 attempts.
“You’ve got to win at all costs in this game,” Pickett said. “That’s all I truly care about. Of course, you want to light up the stat sheet, but as long as we’re getting the wins, I’m okay with that. I sleep good with getting a win. So, keep pushing, keep having that mindset, stay together as a group and we’ll be alright.”
After all, it’s not like this is the first time Mike Tomlin has made some magic with a team winning more than its fair share of close games.