By Gene Collier / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
December 30, 2013
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell scores a touchdown Sunday against the Browns at Heinz Field. (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)
The Steelers vacated Heinz Field for the North Side gloom Sunday not knowing whether they would play their next football game within eight days or within 8½ months, but they knew this:
They had won the coveted Water Street Trophy.
Never heard of it?
That might have something to do with the fact that I just made it up, but it's no small thing.
With their eighth win of season, a routine, 20-7 arm-twisting of the typically down-and-out Cleveland Browns, the Steelers guaranteed they would go home with more victories than the Pitt Panthers, with whom they share the same South Side football factory at 3400 South Water.
Pitt cranked up the heat a bit with a bedazzling [not really] Pizza Bowl victory against Bowling Green the day after Christmas, making it 7 wins apiece within the building.
But, after Sunday, the fictitious Water Street Trophy goes to the Black & Gold, even though they didn't bother to actually win a game until Oct. 13.
"We knew we had a good football team," said Ike Taylor, now 11 years into this Steelers life, "but, when you're consistent at being inconsistent, you get that 8-8 record."
It wasn't just that this Steelers team managed to sidestep the first losing season under Mike Tomlin, it further managed to put a signature on an 8-8 autumn that was so darned 8-8 it was a little spooky.
How 8-8 is this, for example?
Across 16 hair-raising episodes, the Steelers gained exactly 5,400 yards, their opponents exactly 5,395. The Steelers did that while scoring 379 points, their opponents 370. And if that doesn't stretch credulity, see if you can determine what the following people have in common, other than that they consistently cash checks signed by someone named Rooney: Troy Polamalu, Matt Spaeth, William Gay, Cortez Allen, Will Johnson, Derek Moye.
Eclectic group right there, no?
An eight-time Pro Bowl safety, a back-up tight end, two cornerbacks, a little-used fullback and a free-agent wideout who was de-activated on game day more often that he wasn't.
Well, all six scored the same number of touchdowns this year as decorated tight end Heath Miller. They all scored one, and that, too, is the definition of 8-8, if not 7-9 or 6-10 or worse.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/gene-collier/2013/12/30/Gene-Collier-Steelers-8-8-record-befits-their-season/stories/201312300100#ixzz2oxd5CSqa