The Pittsburgh Steelers lost 13-10 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday — their first one-score defeat of the 2023 NFL season. Although the Steelers remain firmly in the AFC‘s playoff hunt, the loss to their division rivals laid bare the cracks in Pittsburgh‘s offense (77 yards through the air) that have been difficult to overcome.
Running back Najee Harris is tired of it all. Amid declining production — Harris only has 499 rushing yards and three touchdowns this season — the former Pro Bowl selection seems to understand that the way the Steelers are winning isn’t likely to culminate in a playoff appearance.
Fractures behind the scenes?
Following the loss at Cleveland Browns Stadium, Harris implied to reporters that there are conflicting interests at work behind the scenes in Pittsburgh — even though the team has a surprising 6-4 record and currently owns the final wild card place in the AFC.
It could be construed as a worrying sign that Harris declined to answer whether the Steelers players are focused on the collective rather than individual accomplishments. It’s something that head coach Mike Tomlin will have to address in the locker room before the Steelers head for Cincinnati next Sunday in another crucial AFC North clash.
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Najee the realist
Harris also cast doubt on how good the Steelers really are, despite their 6-4 record and ability to force turnovers on defense.
“It’s a good record, but this is the NFL,” Harris cautioned. “Winning like how we did is not going to get us nowhere.”
Harris does have a point. The Steelers’ 6-4 record has been propped up by a 6-1 record in one-score games — indicative of execution in clutch moments, to a degree, but it’s mostly emblematic of pure luck. Pittsburgh has the 31st-ranked passing offense in the NFL — and despite owning a top-10 scoring defense, the Steelers are 28th in yards allowed.
But if Pittsburgh finds itself in another close game against the Joe Burrow-less Bengals in week 12, it might be foolish to bet against them finding a way to pull out a seventh win of the season.