Steelers MMQB: NFL Week 17 Wrap Up


Dec 29, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) reacts alongside running back Le

What We Learned in Week 17 in the NFL:

  • Peyton Manning and Broncos take all of the records
  • Aaron Rodgers comes back to lead Packers to a playoff berth
  • Steelers get most but not all help needed to get into playoffs
  • 2013 Steelers season ends at 8-8

What a crappy way for it all to end huh? Before I start wrapping it all up I’d just like to be an insufferable homer and say how proud I am that this team never gave up and fought till the very end. After an 0-4 start they went 8-4 and damned near made the impossible happen with a playoff berth. As mad as I am about Ryan Succop, the refs, and the fact that the Steelers needed so much help I can’t be that mad because the Steelers gave all they had and that’s all we can ask for.

On their way to clinching home-field advantage in the playoffs the Denver Broncos under Peyton Manning smashed any and all remaining offensive records that had been left remaining after Manning broke the single-season touchdown record last week. The Broncos finished with 606 points; more than any other team in NFL history and the first NFL team to reach 600 points scored in a single season. Peyton Manning was also able to break Drew Brees’ single-season passing yards record by one yard, in the first half. Peyton’s final regular season stats read: 450 of 659 (68.3%), 5,477 yards, 55 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions, and a 115.1 passer rating.  Unreal. What an epic fail it would be if the Broncos don’t win the Super Bowl after all that.

The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers returned to the field for the first time since his Week 9 injury to his collar bone to help give Green Bay a chance at the playoffs. The Packers needed to convert three 4th downs in their final drive to beat the Bears. They converted all three including a 4th and 7 that turned into the 48-yard game winning touchdown. Rough way for the Bears to go out but the NFC North was as up-for-grabs as it was on the last day of the season because each team had failed to secure it when they had the chance. That’s how it goes sometimes. The Packers will now host the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card game next weekend.

Going into Sunday’s action the Steelers still had a shot at the playoffs with a win and some help. Believe it or not, that’s an improvement from last season. Last year, going into the Week 17 game at home against Cleveland the Steelers had nothing to play for besides avoiding a losing season as they had already been eliminated from playoff contention. This year, the Browns game still had meaning. The Steelers needed a favorable outcome in three other games to make their playoff dreams come true and almost pulled it off.

The Jets were able to take care of the Dolphins while Miami was in the midst of a giant bed-crapping the last two weeks following their victory over New England. The Bengals also helped out the Steelers by sending the Ratbirds home for the playoffs, even though each quarterback literally tried to give the game away with Dalton and Flacco combining for seven interceptions.

The Steelers did their share of the work by taking care of Cleveland at home. They won 20-7 with Le’Veon Bell breaking Franco Harris’ record of yards from scrimmage by a rookie running back and Antonio Brown becoming the first player in NFL history to have at least five receptions in each of the 16 games of the regular season. Ben Roethlisberger moved to 17-1 against Cleveland for his career. The Steelers ended the regular season on a 3-game winning streak.

All eyes of Steeler Nation turned to San Diego as Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes would rest on the shoulders of the backup players for Kansas City. Earlier it had been announced that Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid would be resting 20 out of the 22 starters for the game as the team was locked into their 5th seed and couldn’t move up or down no matter the outcome. The Chiefs actually went into halftime with a 21-14 lead and all signs were pointing to the impossible happening for the Steelers. San Diego was able to tie the game but had to give Kansas City the ball back with just over two minutes remaining. The Chiefs were able to eat up the clock and get themselves into easy field-goal range as Ryan Succop lined up for a 41-yarder with 8 seconds left. Wide right. The game goes to overtime and the Chargers win the toss. They lined up for a punt but faked and appeared to have lost the ball in a fumble recovered by Kansas City for a touchdown. Elation! Celebration! Not so fast. The refs on the field had determined that the Chargers ball carrier, who had lost his helmet on the play, had his forward progress stopped after securing a first down for San Diego, thus ending the play and retaining possession for San Diego. On top of that, the play isn’t reviewable because forward progress is not a reviewable call. The Chargers went on to kick a field goal and then hold the Chiefs to seal their playoff destiny and piss of Steeler Nation across the country.

Here’s the thing. Ok there might be a few things. The refs screwed up here, I don’t think there’s any denying that. I’m not playing the “There’s a conspiracy against the Steelers” card because I watch all the games and I’ve seen enough blown calls go against other teams to know that it’s not a conspiracy but just an effed up officiating system this league is plagued with currently. Mike Pereira, of Fox Sports, who is the former VP of NFL Officiating often, voices his opinion on controversial calls throughout the weekend. What he has to say about this play could piss you off all over again, just to warn you.

The other thing I need to add is that the decision by Andy Reid to rest his starters for this game is undoubtedly going to bite him in the ass. I’m not being a disgruntled Steelers fan at this point; I’m being an NFL fan that has seen enough teams pull this garbage to rest their players for an inevitable early playoff exit. After the season that Kansas City has had, jumping out to a 9-0 season, being doubted as far as their ability to beat playoff-caliber teams, and only winning 2 of their last 7 games how is this the best plan to set them up for playoff success? Especially now, after that emotional loss to a division rival in the final week of the regular season, how in the world can Andy Reid be confident that his rested starters can shake the funk off of all of their previous losses and watching that final loss to head into Indy with confidence and the ability to win on the road?

As far as the 2013 Steelers season is concerned I realize that 8-8 is a disappointment. It’s a disappointment on all sides of the ball. I think it’s important to realize that the biggest reason why the team went from 0-4 to 8-4 was that Mike Tomlin never lost his team. In spite of all the criticism, in spite of the drama that is constantly perpetuated about Roethlisberger and Haley, in spite of the slow start and the question of effort, Tomlin coached his team back into relevancy this season. The Steelers have finished with a non-losing season for the 10th consecutive year. Only the Patriots have a longer streak without a losing season. We all expect changes to be made because some changes are necessary and unavoidable but before you want to bitch and moan about how awful it was that the Steelers started so slow that they weren’t able to control their own fate just take a moment and look how just this last week of the NFL season went. Before you decided that if the Steelers had just done things how you declared they should be done you know there would have been a different outcome take a look at how in spite of everything that went wrong the Steelers still had a shot at the playoffs. You can’t control everything, you can’t control every outcome, you can only give all you got.

Here we go Steelers! Here we go!

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