Touchdown! Ben to Plax, just like old times. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
What We Learned In Week 17 in the NFL
- Playoff spots won and lost in final games
- Coaches ready to clean out their offices
- The NFL is foaming at the mouth for a possible Manning vs. Brady playoff matchup
- Steelers end the season with a win at home over the Browns
We had such high hopes for this season, didn’t we Steeler Nation? We have high hopes for every season, honestly. Every year it’s either Super Bowl or bust but sometimes things just don’t go the way they’re supposed to and what you’re left with is something Steeler fans aren’t used to; knowing going into the game that it’s the last game of the season. The Steelers handled the Browns at home for their last outing as the 2012 Steelers but before we review the game, let’s take some cheap shots.
The AFC playoff teams had all already clinched last weekend but the seedings weren’t set until after this Sunday. The Broncos and Patriots managed to clinch the top two seeds and first-round byes while the Texans slipped all the way down to the #3 spot and will face the Bengals in the Wild Card game. The Ratbirds claimed the #4 spot and will welcome the emotional Colts in their Wild Card matchup next weekend. The Bengals were able to take down the Steelers and Ravens for the first time in Andy Dalton’s and AJ Green’s career thanks to the Ravens laying down most of the game yesterday.
The NFC playoff spots were up for grabs yesterday and even though the Giants destroyed the Eagles in their matchup, they didn’t get the help they needed to clinch and will be the first defending Super Bowl Champions to miss the playoffs since the 2009 Steelers. The Bears were unable to get the help they needed and Jay Cutler’s bitter beer face will have to continue a little bit longer. The Vikings behind Adrian Peterson’s amazing season where he fell just 9 yards short of passing Eric Dickerson’s record will face the Packers in the Wild Card round while the Redskins who’s gamble on trading everything for RGIII certainly paid off as they claimed the NFC East crown and will face the Seahawks in the Wild Card round. It will be up to the Falcons to shake their history of playoff choking as they secured the #1 overall seed and home field advantage.
The Monday following Week 17 is usually the day where NFL coaches all over the league get served their walking papers. The Andy Reid era is officially over in Philly and apparently the Jets ownership decided to make GM Mike Tannenbaum the scape goat for their failures and will retain loud-mouth Rex Ryan as head coach, at least for the time being. Others coaches that will be looking for jobs are to include Romeo Crennel, Pat Shurmer, Norv Turner, and Ken Whisenhunt. Might be easier to just name coaches that won’t be fired today. The Steelers will be on the hunt for a new Offensive Line and possibly Special Teams coach this offseason. One thing that is irritating me about the talk of the coaching firings is how everyone thinks Andy Reid is just automatically guaranteed another job somewhere else. I just don’t understand the national love fest for Andy Reid right now. I mean I don’t have any strong feelings against the guy I just think he’s getting a whole lot of credit for being great at a job he’s also getting fired for.
The NFL marketing executives have got to be as excited as Jo-Jo the idiot circus boy with a pretty new pet at the fact that Peyton Manning was able to perform so great with the Broncos this season following his comeback from a zillion neck surgeries and awful commercials with Papa John’s. With the Broncos securing the #1 seed and the Patriots with the #2 it looks as though the possibility of a Manning vs. Brady AFC Championship is highly likely. Up until you realize that the way the playoffs have been going the past 8 years or so, the final conference championship is almost never the #1 and #2 seeds.
As I mentioned before I was at the Steelers final home game yesterday, along with Heinz Field’s lowest ever crowd for a Steelers game to cheer on my beloved Black & Gold in a game that didn’t mean anything for standings or seedings, but meant a whole lot for me to be there. I’ve sat through a Steelers game in a hurricane, and in seemingly 1,000 degree weather in Florida and I can honestly say I’ll take a game in the snow any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
The Steelers took the field for warm ups while snow was still falling in Heinz Field on a frosty day. Though most of the time in Pittsburgh the skies are rather gray, the sun managed to pop out just seconds before Troy Polamalu intercepted Browns’ QB Thad Lewis for the first of four Steelers forced turnovers. Unfortunately, the offense was unable to capitalize off of the turnover and had to punt on their ensuing possession and you almost worried it was going to be the same scenario as last week; the defense creating opportunities by forcing turnovers and the offense failing to capitalize. Ben and the offense eventually got it together and opened up a 24-10 lead in the fourth quarter after Ben was able to throw 3 touchdown passes including one to Plaxico Burress. Cortez Allen played another outstanding game, forcing two fumbles again.
I’m still so happy I was able to take in the game yesterday; I can’t really be spiteful or sarcastic about the Steelers 8-8 season at this point. I’m sure that will come, I know we’d all rather be ready to talk about the playoff matchup the Steelers will face rather than what coaching and personnel changes will happen in this, long offseason that lies before us. I’ll make sure to wear my smart-ass hat while watching Wild Card Weekend next weekend and report all the cheap shots I can think of. Until then, bring it on Wild Card Weekend!
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