There’s no doubt that things got ugly at times.
Center Maurkice Pouncey, middle linebacker Larry Foote and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling all suffered season-ending injuries.
The offense was abysmal as well, largely due to the loss of Pouncey.
The unit could only muster 195 total yards, the team’s smallest total at home in the last 128 regular season games, earning the team plenty of criticism on Twitter.
But the most insightful tweets often noted that even though things certainly looked grim at times, there are elements of a solid team here.
The defense was the one part of this team that seemed to function on Sunday, with a healthy Troy Polamalu looking particularly dominant.
After missing nine games, the safety finally looks like his old self again and is back to dominating at the line of scrimmage, as Jake Locker found out on Sunday.
The special teams unit was similarly encouraging, particularly newly signed punter Zoltan Mesko, as some noted.
MVP through 3 qtrs. RT @Andy_Benoit: Steelers signing Mesko would have been bigger news if we had known their offense would be this bad.— ryan wilson (@ryanwilson_07) September 8, 2013
Mesko averaged 44.1 yards per punt with a long of 51, which aren’t incredible numbers, but he was good enough to stop Tennessee from ever starting with particularly advantageous field position.
Yet the biggest factor in the Steelers’ favor is likely the weakness of the AFC North.
@defalc11 Fully healthy, Steelers had as good a chance as anybody in the AFC imo. Hell, they're still tied for first in the AFCN.— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) September 9, 2013
The same is true of the Steelers themselves.
This game was in no way representative of the team’s full potential for the year.
The offense was undoubtedly horrible, but losing a key player like Pouncey in the middle of a game was bound to throw things off.
Once the team can start to work in backup Kelvin Beachum or the newly signed Fernando Velasco, the offense will undoubtedly be more cohesive.
The team also re-signed running back Jonathan Dwyer and will continue to sort out the running back situation before Le’Veon Bell eventually returns.
In short, it’s not time to press the panic button in Pittsburgh just yet.
The offense is in the process of getting better, while the team’s excellent defense, developing special teams and mediocre division will ensure that the squad stays competitive while they work out the kinks.