It’s been quite a season for the Pittsburgh Steelers: wins over Indianapolis, Baltimore and Cincinnati, among others, and losses to Tampa Bay, New Orleans and New York (Jets), among others.
How does a franchise beat so many good teams, yet lose to so many struggling ones?
“Throughout our history, over the last 15 years – and I hate to say this – but we always don’t do (well) against (losing) teams,” Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You put us against (good) teams and our backs against the wall, then we’re going to come (out) victorious. I don’t know why it’s always like that. If you give us a tough schedule throughout the year, we’re going to win the majority of (those games). If you give us an okay schedule, we’re going to struggle. I don’t know why it’s been like that, but it’s been like that for years. It’s crazy, but that’s how it’s been. I can’t put my finger on it. I can’t call nobody. I can’t ask a psychic. That’s just how it is.”
It’s been a frustrating season for the 34-year-old Taylor, who has been limited to just five games due to various injuries. He missed Pittsburgh’s 27-20 win over the Falcons on Sunday due to forearm and shoulder ailments.
Taylor, however, isn’t letting his pride get the best of him.
“I’m playing hurt all the time,” he said. “And I think a lot of guys in the NFL, you kind of understand that you learn to play hurt – because that’s just your mentality, you know? But I got to a point where when I was coming up for tackles and when I was hitting, my shoulder wasn’t feeling right. So I’m not able to pull my shoulder and my arm all the way back. So I’m not able to get the stride I want as far as a runner. Playing corner, you got to be able to run. You got to be able to open up. Maybe if I’m playing linebacker, maybe if I’m playing box safety, I can kind of get away with a short burst and all that. My range might be 15 to 25 yards if i’m playing safety, but heck, playing corner, you got a wide range. Your range (goes) from one goal line to the next goal line. So I got to the point where I was like, ‘Man, I’m not doing nothing but hurting my shoulder and my team. As much as I want to be out there, I can’t do this today. I can’t do this right now. My body ain’t letting me do this.”
Taylor’s coaches have noticed. They’ve put a bit of a leash on Taylor this season, explaining that he’s not doing himself – or his team – any favors just by being out there. If he’s able to perform to his abilities, great. But if something’s not right, he can’t be out there – at least not as much as he has been.
Said Taylor, “I was like, ‘You know what, man? As much as I want to say forget all that and let me play, you’re right. You’re right.’”
Pittsburgh (9-5) closes the season with home games against the Chiefs (8-6) and Bengals (9-4-1). If the Steelers win out, they’ll make the playoffs.