It’s been a weird and wacky season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who, despite having one of the worst offenses and defenses in the NFL, have somehow managed to claw their way to a 6-3 record.
Well, that season got even more weird when — twice in one week — two of their division rival quarterbacks went on injured reserve with season-ending injuries. Pittsburgh will face both backups, Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Jake Browning, in consecutive weeks.
It wouldn’t be the first time. From Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck to Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson, Pittsburgh has seen several starting signal-callers go down with injuries before playing them.
According to an “unofficial count” by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac, Sunday marks at least the 18th time in the past 11 seasons that Pittsburgh will face a backup quarterback in the wake of an injury to the regular starter. The Steelers are 14-3 when it’s happened before.
What could spell trouble is those three losses all came to AFC North teams. Baltimore’s Ryan Mallet, in for Joe Flacco, beat them in 2015. In his only start in 2020, Ryan Finley led Cincinnati to a 27-13 win over the 11-2 Steelers. And, finally, Baltimore’s Tyler Huntley beat them in Week 14 at Acrisure Stadium in 2022.
Can Thompson-Robinson, a rookie out of UCLA whose only start this season produced three points, three interceptions and a passer rating of 25.3 (versus Ravens), make it a fourth?
Let’s hope not. According to Pro Football Focus, if the Steelers beat the Browns on Sunday, their chances of making the playoffs go up to 79 percent, but if they lose, the odds go down to 46 percent.
Then again, I’m not sure anyone other than the Steelers wants to see them make the playoffs only to be eliminated in the first round.
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Title: Why Browns starting Dorian Thompson-Robinson could spell trouble for the Steelers
Author: Allison Koehler