The Pittsburgh Steelers are the most celebrated team in NFL history, so much so that sometimes winning just seems to be a part of their DNA. But the organization’s continued winning tradition has also created some lofty expectations.
The Steelers have had to play much of the season short-handed, with running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer, wide receiver Antonio Brown and now quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich all among those missing in action. The injuries have left the Steelers dependent on backups, including 37-year-old, third-string quarterback Charlie Batch, in some key games and the results haven’t exactly been stellar.
After a 20-14 loss to the divisional rival Cleveland Browns on Sunday, in a game that included eight Steelers turnovers, mass panic spread across Pittsburgh as fans freaked out at the team’s suddenly mediocre 6-5 record.
Safety Ryan Clark isn’t too happy about the criticism Steelers fans are directing at his team this season, and he responded to what he referred to as “spoiled” fans on Wednesday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“You lose one game in Pittsburgh and the sky is falling, it’s just part of the culture,” Clark said. “It’s part of winning six Super Bowls, it’s part of being 12-4 three of the last four years. We’re a spoiled bunch and overall we’ve become entitled. But you can’t be entitled, you can’t walk into places and just think because you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers you’re going to win.”
Clark has been one of the lone bright spots for the Steelers this season. He’s racked up 76 tackles, intercepted one pass and forced a pair of fumbles, holding down the secondary in Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu‘s absence.
While the Steelers desperately cling to the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, though, Clark knows how important each game is and that every game is a must win.
“We need to execute and we haven’t been executing,” Clark said. “Do we need to win next week? Without a doubt. We could have needed to win next week had we won this game.”
There are still five games left to play, and with Roethlisberger, Polamalu and other slated to return soon enough, the Steelers should meet their lofty expectations by season’s end.