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Steelers Will Need Defense to Lead Charge to Escape 1-4 Start

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PITTSBURGH — It’s something of an understatement to say that the Steelers 2019 season has not started the way they hoped.

The team is 1-4 after losing Sunday’s 26-23 overtime bout with the Baltimore Ravens and is already 2.5 games behind those Ravens for first place in the AFC North.

They’ve also lost two starting quarterbacks in-game to significant injury, with Ben Roethlisberger lost for the year to an elbow injury and Mason Rudolph requiring hospitalization after a concussion on Sunday.

Rudolph seems to be doing OK and undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges moved the ball well in his first career action, but at this point if the Steelers are going to rescue their 2019 season, the most likely way for that to happen is if it comes from the defense.

That unit has been rounding into shape as of late and perhaps had its best effort of the season against the Ravens. The Steelers held Baltimore to a season-low 277 yards and forced three interceptions.

So when Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made the nearly unheard-of decision to kick the ball away to start the overtime period on Sunday, he did it with the confidence that the defense would be able to get the Steelers’ wounded offense good field position.

That unit seems just fine with being put into that position, both on Sunday afternoon and for the rest of the season.

“We don’t shy away from that,” defensive captain Cameron Heyward said on Monday. “We get to make a stand and we can make a statement as soon as we get on the field. We went into the game thinking we wanted to defer to start the game and in OT, it’s the same way. I appreciate that and I know our defense does, because we want to set the tone.”

Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick echoed the sentiments of Heyward that the defense is ready for a greater spotlight.

“I’m happy he did it,” Fitzpatrick says. “That’s a compliment to us. He think we can go out there and get a stop. We did that.”

He also said that the team understand the situation it’s in as a whole.

“We’re 1-4,” he said. “We still have 11 more games to go out there and compete, play football and that’s it. We play pretty solid football. Some unfortunate things happened. Our quarterback going down. We have some things to correct on defense. We’re not far. 1-4 doesn’t really reflect where this team is at.”

Steelers

Terrell Edmunds Explains New Nickname

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Terrell Edmunds informs the media, including Mike Asti and Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, about his new nickname. Call him “Old Fashioned” from now on. He also expresses how feels about the current state of the Steelers, and that’s obviously includes being happy about the team’s record but also understanding the need to improve.

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Steelers

Steelers Week 10 Game vs. Bengals Flexed to 4:25 p.m. National Broadcast

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The Steelers game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10 has been flexed into a national television broadcast slot.

The Steelers and Bengals will now kick off at Heinz Field on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 4:25 p.m. The game had originally been scheduled to kick at 1 p.m. It will be broadcast nationally on FOX. All of that weekend’s early games will be broadcast on FOX, as CBS has coverage of The Masters, which was rescheduled from this summer.

The game will be Pittsburgh’s first matchup against 2020 NFL Draft No. 1 pick, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.

The Steelers are also playing a 4:25 p.m., nationally broadcast game in Week 9 against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. That game will be televised by CBS.

That will be the second time this season the Steelers will be placed in a nation-wide television slot. The team opened the season playing on ESPN’s Monday Night Football against the New York Giants.

The Steelers’ Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans was protected by CBS in a 1 p.m. time slot, but was broadcast nearly nationwide, with CBS only showing two other 1 p.m. games.

The Steelers will play on national television at least three more times this season: against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, Nov. 26, on Sunday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 13 and at the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, Dec. 21.

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What Does Being NFL’s Last Unbeaten Team Portend for Steelers?

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The Steelers are the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL after beating the formerly unbeaten Tennessee Titans on Sunday while the Seattle Seahawks lost on Sunday night, leaving the Steelers as the only 6-0 team in the nation.

What does that mean for them in the long term? Not as much as you might think.

In the last 20 years, one of the last undefeated teams didn’t even make the playoffs three times: 2002 4-0 San Diego Chargers, 2014 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2016 5-0 Minnesota Vikings. Ten other times, one of the last undefeated teams (some years, there are more than one), lost in the first or second round of the NFL playoffs.

Just once since 2000 has the last undefeated team won the Super Bowl, in 2006 when the Indianapolis Colts started 9-0 on the way to winning Super Bowl XLI.

In the first three decades of the league’s modern era, that was significantly different. The last undefeated team won six Super Bowls in the 1990s, two in the 1980s and three in the 1970s, including the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who finished a perfect 17-0, the only team in NFL history to do so.

More recently, being the last undefeated team has resulted in a bunch of Super Bowl losses, including the last time the Steelers were the league’s last unbeaten team. 

The 2001 St. Louis Rams, 2002 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Eagles, 2007 New England Patriots, 2009 Colts, 2010 Steelers, 2015 Carolina Panthers, 2018 Los Angeles Rams and the 2019 San Francisco 49ers all made it to the championship game after being the last undefeated team before losing in the end.

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