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Steelers must beware of underdogs in Dawg Pound

The Steelers need a volunteer.

No, they haven’t become so bad during their four-game losing streak that they need fans to suit up. That’s not it.

What they need is someone to hold their beer.

Huh?

The Steelers have pulled more than their share of jackass moves in recent years.

Losing to Ryan Mallett and the Ravens at Baltimore last year and nearly blowing a playoff berth.

Losing to the 2-14 Buccaneers at home and the 4-12 Jets in 2014.

Losing to 4-12 Raiders teams in both 2012 and 2013.

But if you think those belly flops were something, hold the Steelers’ beer and watch them lose to the 0-10 Browns.

This normally would be the time to ask the rhetorical question “Don’t think it can happen?” But it’s a safe bet that an overwhelming majority of Steelers Nation has a Terrible Towel to its mouth in fear that it will happen.

We’ve seen it too many times. Every year since 2012, the Steelers have lost two games to teams that finished 6-10 or worse.

Here’s the list, with the opponents’ final record in parentheses:

  • 2012: at Tennessee (6-10); at Cleveland (5-11)
  • 2013: vs. Minnesota in London (5-10-1); at Oakland (4-12)
  • 2014: Tampa Bay (2-14); at Jets (4-12)
  • 2015: Baltimore (5-11); at Baltimore (5-11)

It looked like the Steelers would add to that dubious resumé when they lost to the 1-4 Dolphins in Week 6, but that loss might not fall into this category because that was the first of four straight wins for the Dolphins.

After losing at Miami, the Steelers (4-5) lost at home to the Patriots (7-2) without Ben Roethlisberger. Then they lost at Baltimore (5-4) and at home to the Cowboys (8-1) on Sunday.

In the last month, the Steelers have hosted the team with the best record in the NFL and a team tied for the second-best record in the NFL. They’ve played at Miami and Baltimore, which is never an easy place for the Steelers to win.

Even if we consider the Dolphins legit, a championship-caliber team would find a way to at least split those four games, even with Roethlisberger sidelined against the Patriots.

A Steelers team that actually did win a championship lost to an 0-6 Bengals team in 1979. The Bengals, who finished 4-12 that year, returned two fumbles for touchdowns in a 34-10 win at Cincinnati.

So if the Steelers lose Sunday at least they’d bring back one memory from the 1970s.

The Browns’ one strength this season has been their ability to run the ball. They’re sixth in the league with an average of 4.7 yards per carry. With Cameron Heyward out for the season, this looks like “The Far Side” cartoon with Doreen’s Nursery next to Ed’s Dingo Farm.

The caption reads “Trouble brewing.”

In the seven games Heyward has played this year, the Steelers have allowed more than 100 rushing yards twice. The Eagles ran for 125 yards in beating them 34-3 in Week 3 and the Cowboys ran for 127 yards in their 35-30 win Sunday.

The Eagles ran the ball to milk the clock because they had such a big lead, and on Sunday Heyward was playing with the torn pectoral muscle that ended his season.

In the two games that Heyward missed this season, the Dolphins ran for 222 yards and the Patriots ran for 140 yards.

Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, start your engines.

As frustrating as the aforementioned upsets since 2012 have been, perhaps the rock-bottom point of the Ben Roethlisberger Era came on a frigid Thursday night at Cleveland in 2009. The 1-11 Browns dealt the Steelers their fifth straight loss, 13-6.

During that five-game skid, the Steelers also lost at home to the 5-11 Raiders and at 4-12 Kansas City. They won their last three games to finish 9-7, but didn’t get the help they needed in Week 17 to make the playoffs.

Roethlisberger, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, William Gay, Ramon Foster, David Johnson and Greg Warren were on that 2009 team that would have made the playoffs despite a four-game losing streak if had just beaten the Browns. Perhaps they will learn from history and see to it that the Steelers take care of business in Cleveland on Sunday.

But just in case they don’t, hold their beer.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

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