Yep, the impossible happened yesterday. Everything fell into place, but don’t tell me it wasn’t a nail-biter all the way.
First, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed to take care of their business and beat the Baltimore Ravens. In Baltimore. Not an easy task. But three clutch field goals from Steelers kicker Chris Boswell, a key end zone interception from Steelers defensive specialist Cameron Sutton, and a strike from the quarterback to Steelers tight end Chase Claypool, and Pittsburgh eked out a 16-13 triumph in overtime.
Now the rest of the dominoes had to fall in a specific manner. The Indianapolis Colts had to lose to the two-win Jacksonville Jaguars. But somehow, Jacksonville grew a set of brass cojones, Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence played like a champion, and the Jags gelded the Colts.
The last domino to fall – A win by the Chargers or a win by the Raiders in the Sunday night contest. No tie. And there was some speculation that if things did get close, both teams might do the victory kneeldown – which would put San Diego and Oakland (sorry) Los Angeles and Las Vegas into the playoffs. As I said in yesterday’s blog, that would be a chickenshit move.
Thankfully, both teams felt the same way as I did, and weren’t going to let the game end on chickenshit kneeldowns. One field goal in overtime later, and the Las Vegas Raiders took the #6 seed in the AFC, giving Pittsburgh the #7 seed and a postseason berth.
For the Steelers, head coach Mike Tomlin finished the regular season with a 9-7-1 record, his 15th consecutive non-losing season, a streak that surpassed head coach Marty Schottenheimer’s 14 seasons of success. If you’re not mentioning Tomlin in the same breath as some of the greatest head coaches in NFL history, you’re not speaking properly.
And Steelers defensive back TJ Watt nabbed his 22.5th sack of the season. He now shares that record with New York Giants legend Michael Strahan, and technically since Watt missed a couple of games with a rib injury, he garnered those sacks in fewer games than did Strahan.
And Steelers rookie running back phenom Najee Harris finished his regular season with 1,200 rushing yards, which is incredible when one considers he received an arm stinger in the first half of the Pittsburgh-Baltimore game, and somehow returned to the field in the second half and kept on going like the Energizer Bunny.
So what does that mean for the Black and Gold?
Their first playoff date is Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City’s the #2 seed in the AFC, and the last time the two teams met, the Chiefs thwonked the Steelers 36-10 in a game that wasn’t even that close.
I don’t care. The Steelers have as much of a chance to reach the Super Bowl as does anybody else. Survive and advance. Never give up. Never surrender. We can do this, we will do this, because there’s no alternative to not doing this.
You’ll have to pardon me if I go into my Yinzer fanboy mode right now. I just remember earlier this year when the Steelers were 1-3 and all I heard were “draft picks” and “time has passed them by.”
Kinda funny that the same teams that said that time has passed Pittsburgh by are now sitting at home. Ain’t that right, Cleveland? Ain’t that right, Baltimore? Ain’t that right, Minnesota? What you got to say now? Yeah, thought so.
So I’ve got a week to prepare for the fandom of a Monday night playoff game. Let’s do this.
Yoi and Double Yoi.
When the Chargers called timeout with 0:42 left in OT, did that seal their own fate?
And more broadly, the 10-minute OT seems very short, if the team that wins the toss spends 7 minutes on a drive that ends in a FG.
With two of the three games going to overtime, it heightened the excitement. Jacksonville continues its home field hex over Indy. Ehh. I picked Pittsburgh & Las Vegas, so I got two out of three.
A not-so-nice article about the QB: https://www.sfgate.com/sports-columns/article/a-proper-send-off-for-steelers-ben-roethlisberger-16748606.php
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