Fans were fooled: Early despair for the Steelers gives way to hope

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Bad. Embarrassing. Hopeless. Losers. Not worth watching. These are words not heard in Pittsburgh in the same sentence with the word Steelers for more than a generation, but disillusion set in early this year. The city’s hitherto most loved sports team started the season 0-4 for the first time since 1968.

October brought a couple of wins but they seemed face-saving exceptions, not cause for optimism. As recently as Nov. 3, fan pessimism seemed to be confirmed when the Steelers visited the New England Patriots and were trounced 55-31. Their record stood at 2-6.

But that was then. Tonight, they play their old rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, and amazingly still have a chance of making the playoffs. Having beaten the Ravens once this season, there is reason to hope.

What a development. According to the early naysayers, tonight’s game in Baltimore was doomed to be unimportant, just a chance for dyspepsia after the turkey dinner if anybody from Pittsburgh was foolhardy enough to watch.

Not now. What the despair did not account for was the glorious uncertainty of sports, football in particular. Forlorn fans forgot that teams can improve over a season if they have the character. That the Steelers have rallied, at least this far, is another reason to be thankful on this Thanksgiving.

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