Steelers clinch playoff spot despite second straight loss

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19). Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19). Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers dropped their second game in a row Sunday night at Buffalo but were still able to clinch a spot in the postseason.

The Dolphins’ loss earlier in the day and sent the Steelers to the playoffs after missing the postseason the previous two campaigns.

Pittsburgh is 11-2, with the second loss dropping them out of the number-one spot in the AFC and the first-round bye that goes with it after another drop-prone aerial attack and still injury-riddled defensive lineup in Buffalo.

The Kansas City Chiefs kept winning, and they are now the conference’s top dogs after surviving an early scare from the previously mentioned Miami Dolphins. Miami jumped out to a 10-lead before Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs came roaring back with 30 unanswered. Even with the dramatic lead swing, the game was never out of hand. Miami replied with a 17-3 run of their own, but it was not enough, and they fell 33-27.

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Sounds like these Dolphins are a team to keep an eye on, hanging as they did with the defending champs. As the seventh seed in the AFC, they’re in line to travel to… Pittsburgh to face the second-seeded Steelers. Gulp.

Their current starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, has thrown for 1,214 yards, 9 touchdowns, and an interception in seven games. His stats are good for a 62% completion percentage, an average of 182 yards a game, and a 95.2 quarterback rating, per ESPN.

Hopefully, the Steelers will have fixed their receiving woes and energized their run game by the second week of January, because the Dolphins hold their opponents to an average of 19 points per game. The Dolphins opponents average 4.6 yards per rush attempt, doable if James Conner gets back into the swing of things, and 7.7 yards per pass attempt, which is also within reach if the ball remains within literal reach for the receiving corps.

I, personally, am hoping that if the Steelers end up playing in a Wild Card game, it’s the Sunday game in the 4:30 time slot on CBS, which will be simulcast on Nickelodeon in a production geared toward a younger audience:

The Steelers hope to get back to winning ways on Monday Night Football as they travel to Cincinnati (2-10-1).

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The full AFC playoff order is as follows: Kansas City (12-1), Pittsburgh (11-2), Buffalo (10-3), Tennessee (9-4), Cleveland (9-4), Indianapolis (9-4), and Miami (8-5). Baltimore (8-5), Las Vegas (7-6), New England (6-7), and Denver (5-8) remain in the hunt.