MEADOWLANDS, N.J. – There weren’t any celebrations or victory cigars.
There were a handful of smiles, and there was a sense of relief, but the Steelers had no feeling of accomplishment Sunday.
After all, Pittsburgh’s 19-6 win over the New York Jets is just one victory.
For a team coming off an 0-4 start following an 0-4 preseason that followed a 1-3 finish last year, it was a bit of redemption. There is still some talent on this football team.
The issues that added up to an 0-4 start were not apparent in this game.
The Steelers didn’t turn the ball over for the first time. They also forced their first two turnovers of the season on second-half interceptions by Ryan Clark and Lawrence Timmons. And the defense didn’t allow many big plays.
Those things always have been the formula for winning in the NFL. Do those things and you’ll win more games than you lose.
The trouble for the Steelers had been mixing that formula correctly.
What remains to be seen is if Sunday’s effort against the Jets was a one-game anomaly or the start of something else.
After all, what we have are four games that show the Steelers to be one thing and one game that shows them to be another.
Which one do you believe at this point?
In previous years, it would have been a no-brainer. You’d trust the Steelers to put together more efforts like the one they did Sunday, rather than looking for more of the awful play of the first month.
“It’s good to get a win, obviously,” said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “But we still feel that we have a long way to go. I told the guys, ‘Let’s be happy right now, but not be satisfied.’”
The Steelers are a long way from satisfied.
Though the effort was a good one, it wasn’t perfect.
New York forced the Steelers into four field goals. Pittsburgh scored just one touchdown. It was the game’s only touchdown, but the offense has to be better.
And the defense isn’t going to be facing a mistake-prone rookie every week.
But the Steelers will take their wins where they can get them.
“When you have that zero in the win column, your mind automatically goes to ‘let’s get this first win,’” said safety Ryan Clark. “Now, you are just trying to win every game. There is not as much pressure on each and every play, especially for the younger guys who have never had a win, or for the young guys who were here last year when we were losing down the stretch. It’s good to know what it’s like to come into a locker room after a (win).”
The Steelers will see if they can remember how to do something else – win two in a row. They haven’t done that since beating the New York Giants and Kansas City last November. That Kansas City win was the game in which Pittsburgh’s season all but ended, when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger crumpled in a heap after suffering a shoulder injury.
At 1-4, the Steelers might have dug themselves a hole too big to climb out of. But at least they’re showing signs that they’re willing to try.
F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.