Bottom line: A victory doesn’t have to be pretty


PITTSBURGH — Sloppy. Unimpressive. Lucky.

You can use any or all of those words to describe the Steelers’ 20-17 victory over the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday.

The only thing that matters is they won the game and moved another step closer to setting themselves up for the postseason.

There’s plenty of room for improvement and not much time to manage it. The next game is Thursday, when Tennessee visits.

But the idea is to pile up as many wins as possible, even if they’re as clumsy as Sunday’s game was. Perfection doesn’t seem to be possible, so be happy with success.

There will be a day when the Steelers don’t have a Hall of Fame-level quarterback and struggle to find a replacement from a pool of guys with names like Cliff, Bubby, Neil and Kordell (among too many others). There will be 6-10 seasons where playoff hopes are shot before the first trick-or-treater knocks.

So enjoy 7-2 and the prospect of January football, even it comes wrapped in an ugly as package as we saw on Sunday.

Never apologize for winning.

Quick hits

A couple of Steelers-related thoughts:

n The team still doesn’t know how long cornerback Joe Haden will be out after fracturing his fibula on Sunday. They’re hoping it will be a quick return. Haden, a gift from the clueless Cleveland Browns, has stabilized the secondary this season and been a big part of the overall defensive improvement.

n Maybe the second half of the season will bring a bigger role for running back James Conner. Le’Veon Bell is a workhorse, but Conner has only been on the field for 40 of 617 offensive snaps. That’s less than 6.5 percent of the plays.

The Steelers spent their third-round draft pick on Conner. They should be getting more out of that investment.

Quick turnaround

Every NFL team gets stuck with a Thursday game because of the NFL’s insistence on having another night of prime time product.

Thursday night games were designed to create demand for the NFL Network.

The players hate Thursday games. That’s understandable. They’re still trying to shake the aches and pains from Sunday, and suddenly there’s a game on Thursday.

The Steelers just came off their open week. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to give them their Thursday game last week when there was some extra down time built into the schedule?

Boo, voters

There was no doubt Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers was going to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. He was the unanimous choice in the annual vote conducted among selected members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The Pirates’ Josh Bell had a nice year, but Bellinger’s season was better. No problem there.

But how did 18 of the 30 voters leave Bell off the ballot entirely?

Bell didn’t deserve to be first on the ballot, but it’s hard to imagine there were that many people who didn’t think he should have been second or third.

Mehno can be reached at