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Steelers AFC North Underdogs, but Maintain Super Bowl Aspirations



Cam Heyward

UNITY TWP., Pa. — Since the middle part of the 1970s, the standard for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been the Super Bowl.

The franchise that was the biggest part of Pittsburgh being named the City of Champions in that decade has won six Lombardi Trophies, tied for the most in NFL history.

But this season, the Steelers are in something of an unfamiliar position. Coming off a 9-6-1 season and the departures of star skill position players Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the Steelers aren’t among the favorites to win Super Bowl LIV on February 2, 2020.

New England, owners of six Lombardi Trophies of their own, and Kansas City are current the favorites at 6/1 odds. The Steelers? All the way down in a tie for 10th at 20/1.

In fact, the Steelers aren’t even the favorite to win their own division, with the upstart Cleveland Browns owning the top spot in the betting odds.

So what does that mean the Steelers have been talking about during the first few days of their 2019 training camp? The Super Bowl, of course. As head coach Mike Tomlin loves to say, “the standard is the standard.”

And while that hasn’t — and probably won’t change — the Steelers know that some things on the field need to change if they’re going to beat those odds and bring home Super Bowl win No. 7.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to put it on the field,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “We’ve got to put it on tape. We didn’t make the playoffs last year, so they can say what they want. It’s up to us to make it happen.”

And they don’t feel like they’re that far away. Yes, the offense has lost talented players, but there have been significant additions to the defense in the form of first-round pick Devin Bush and free agents Mark Barron and Steven Nelson.

“If we do what we’re supposed to do, that narrative will change real quick, I’m sure,” guard Ramon Foster said.

While the players are aware that they are capable of achieving the greatness that they strive for, there’s also a very real acknowledgement that it’s been a long time since the Steelers have been there.

The only player on the roster that is left from the team’s 2008-09 Super Bowl win is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Two months later, they signed Foster. After the 2010 season, the Steelers made the Super Bowl once again, this time losing to the Green Bay Packers. Center Maurkice Pouncey was a rookie that year. For those players, and some of the team’s other veterans like Haden and defensive lineman Tyson Alualu (entering 10th season) and defensive lineman Cameron Heyward (entering ninth season), there is a real sense of urgency to get there.

“That’s why I play this game,” Heyward said. “It’s something I love to do and to get your name etched in history is what you want. The only way to do that is to win the Super Bowl.”

“That’s the goal, man,” added Haden. “That’s the thing that just being able to play for the Steelers and knowing that playoffs is not it. They want to win championships. They’ve won a lot of championships. They’re trying to get to seven. Just knowing that that’s the goal here, that’s what everybody is shooting for. It just makes you want to go from the first day, from day one, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”