Steelers season ends in disappointment against Baltimore Ravens
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a slim chance to make the playoffs entering Week 17, but the chips weren’t falling their way to close the season.
In early December, things were looking up for the Steelers. Pittsburgh was coming off a Week 14 win on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, and they had won 7 of their last 8 games. After a dismal start to their season that began with three straight losses, the Steelers had a chance to control their own destiny late in the season.
However, things ended the way they started. Pittsburgh lost close contests to the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets that were accompanied by horrific quarterback play for the Steelers. In Week 17, they lost their 3rd straight contest as they were defeated by a group of backups in Baltimore.
With the number one seed in the AFC already locked up, the Ravens were resting several big names including Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and Earl Thomas. Still, Pittsburgh was sloppy offensively and managed a 10-point dud for their third straight game to close the season.
Devlin Hodges deserves a large portion of the blame in this contest. Despite Benny Snell churning out 91 yards on 5.1 yards per carry, Hodges apparently wasn’t aided by a solid rushing attack. He finished the game just 9 of 25 passing for a dismal 95 yards (3.8 yards per attempt). His 13.8 quarterback rating was disgraceful to a team fighting for the playoffs.
However, even if Pittsburgh found a way to close out the season with a win in Baltimore, they were relying on a group of backups in Houston to take down the Tennessee Titans. With no Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, or Laremy Tunsil, the Texans chances were slim-to-none. They ultimately lost 35-14.
Pittsburgh will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season. For fans who are used to competitive teams year in and year out, it’s never easy to end the season on a note like this. Still, not everything was bad this year.
While we knew deep down the Steelers didn’t stand a chance at going far without Ben, Pittsburgh was able to find some good in the 2019 season. T.J. Watt has developed into perhaps the single-most valuable defensive player in the league when you factor in his age and the importance of the position.
Steven Nelson turned out to be a fantastic signing for the Steelers, while young guys like Devin Bush, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington stand to be solid contributors in the future. Obviously, the Minkah Fitzpatrick deal turned out great for Pittsburgh, and they may have found a dynamic safety for the next decade of football.
The Steelers have a lot of work to do as they head back to the drawing board. It’s still unclear where players like Bud Dupree, Javon Hargrave, or Mike Hilton will be playing in 2020, but with Ben Roethlisberger and Stephon Tuitt set to return next year, things are looking up.