(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
For the first 11 games of the season, Steelers fans envisioned their team playing in Super Bowl LV or at the very least having a showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, now they wonder if they can even win another game and win the AFC North.
The Steelers have lost their last three games after starting the season a franchise-best 11-0. Losing to the Washington Football Team and Buffalo Bills, who are both division leaders, is one thing, but losing to a Cincinnati Bengals team that was 2-10-1 on Monday night in front of a national audience was just rock bottom.
The Steelers seriously could lose their next two games to the 10-4 Indianapolis Colts and 10-4 Cleveland Browns, and then lose in the wild-card round in the playoffs. If that is the case, the Steelers will have lost their final six games after winning their first 11 games. It would be an epic collapse that has never been seen before in NFL history.
The Steelers are the 17th team in NFL history to start a season 11-0 or better. They are just the third team among that group to lose three straight games immediately following an 11-0 or better start, alongside the 1969 Los Angeles Rams and 2009 New Orleans Saints. The 2009 Saints went on to win the Super Bowl.
With the Steelers losing in Week 13 to Washington, who was 4-7 at the time, and then this past Monday night to a Cincinnati team that was 2-10-1, the Steelers became the first team in NFL history to lose multiple games when entering with at least 11 wins and playing a team with four or fewer.
The last time a team was eliminated in their first playoff game after starting the season 11-0 was the 2011 Green Bay Packers, who finished 15-1 and lost in the NFC divisional round to the New York Giants.
If the Steelers can't turn their season around, it will be an embarrassing end to a year that began with such promise. They also would be known as the worst team in NFL history to start a season 11-0.