Steelers were quite literally seconds away from missing the playoffs

Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (2) and Las Vegas Raiders long. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (2) and Las Vegas Raiders long. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed everything to go right to enter the tournament, but here’s how they nearly missed the playoffs this year. 

This wasn’t the first time the Pittsburgh Steelers were banking on outside help to give them a boost into the playoffs. Just a few years back, Mike Tomlin’s team found themselves in a similar situation.

However, this time around, their chances seemed remarkably slim. In addition to being road underdogs against the Baltimore Ravens and needing a win of their own in the season finale, Pittsburgh was counting on the previously 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars (of all teams) to win a game against the Indianapolis Colts to get them into the playoffs.

Upon the completion of the 1:00 P.M. Eastern Time games, Steelers fans were all smiles and were resting at ease… that is, until Sunday Night Football rolled around.

At that point, the only thing that could have kept Pittsburgh out of the playoffs was a rare tie in overtime on Sunday Night Football by the Chargers and Raiders. If this would have happened, both Los Angeles and Las Vegas would have made it to the post-season — knocking the Steelers out in the process. For those of us that stayed up to watch the who game, we probably shaved months off our lives with the stress that ensued.

Steelers were literally seconds away from missing the playoffs

According to FiveThirtyEight, the likelihood of things turning out in Pittsburgh’s favor the way they did was just 6 percent prior to the Week 18 games. So I can only imagine how extraordinarily low the chances would have been for the Raiders and Chargers to both make it to the post-season.

Needing anything but a tie, the Steelers were no doubt watching the game from home — hoping that the seconds would quickly tick off the clock so that they could officially pop the cork on their post-season champagne. However, this was a nail-biter that sucked us in until the end.

Despite the Raiders holding a 29-14 lead halfway through the 4th quarter, this game was far from over. Eventually, Justin Herbert rallied his troops to even the score at 29 a piece as time literally expired to zero seconds in regulation.

In overtime, things got really scary for Steelers fans. The Raiders struck first with a field goal on their opening position, but after the Chargers drive stalled the other way, Los Angeles settled for a field goal of their own and the score was knotted at 32-32.

The Raiders got the ball back for one last possession, and at this point, it looked like there was a very good chance both teams were going to be content letting time expire and mutually entering the post-season together. With just 1:20 on the game clock, the Raiders ran the ball three straight times.

If not for a questionable timeout by Chargers head coach, Brandon Staley, the seconds may have ticked away altogether. However, the Raiders brought the kicking team on the field with just 2 seconds remaining and Daniel Carlson nailed the game-winner from 47 yards out.

This was way too close for comfort for Steelers fans. How absurd of a rollercoaster ride of emotion would it have been if everything playout perfectly for Pittsburgh on Sunday evening only to have their dreams crushed on Sunday night.

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Mike Tomlin and the Steelers know they have been given a gift with the unlikeliest of playoff berths this year and it was almost foiled in the closing second of Sunday Night Football. Let’s hope they show just how thankful they are for this opportunity with what would be the biggest upset in the Wild Card Round against the Kansas City Chiefs this week.