How the Steelers proved their postseason belonging in Buffalo

Steelers, Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers, Pittsburgh Steelers / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Welp, there it is. After Mason Rudolph put the Steelers on his back and squeaked us into the bottom of the AFC bracket (with the help of some stars aligning), Pittsburgh’s Cinderella playoff run is over as soon as it begins, and the Steel City is taking it about as well as one would expect.

After their boys lost 31-17 to the two-seeded Bills in Buffalo, yinzers saw multiple flaws in the team worth commenting on, but none garnered more attention than head coach Mike Tomlin. While lumping him under such a term may seem harsh, it’s not unfounded, as all he has in his corner at this point is his streak of non-losing records, which fewer and fewer people are caring about by the minute.

I am one of those many displeased, so much so that I’ve voiced my impatience with him on multiple occasions before Monday night’s result, and do I believe that it and others like it should be taken into consideration whenever his job security is brought into question? Absolutely.

However, as I just said, I am no newcomer to the “Bring Me Tomlin’s Head” party; I’ve already spoken my piece on that, and it essentially ends with his seat cooling off from Pittsburgh hitting Wild Card status. With both that and the team’s season-ending in mind, I refuse to once again be the pessimist. Rather, I’ll be the exact opposite—and doing so is not as hard as you might think.

No, I’m not going to die on a hill about how losing in the Wild Card round by two touchdowns is a positive thing, as anyone who knows anything about NFL history is well aware of how doing so falls far below Pittsburgh’s standard. But, I do feel that any Steelers fans acting like this is some unprecedentedly shameful defeat is being a tad overdramatic, and why? Because of this week’s other first-round losers.

All in all, the Steelers were relatively far from being an easy win

We’ll start with Saturday, as it not only makes sense chronologically but was unarguably the most hideous of the Wild Card days. On Saturday, we were supposed to see some of the round’s best matchups, with the Cleveland Browns heading into Houston to face the Texans before the Miami Dolphins traveled up to Kansas City in hopes of downing the Chiefs, but what we got was 31 and 19-point wins by the respective home teams. In other words: Beatdowns.

As for Sunday, we witnessed yet another massacre as the NFC’s second-seeded Cowboys gave up almost 50 points to the Green Bay Packers in Dallas, and they needed to unlock some late life to even have it at the two-score margin we ultimately got in the 48-32 final.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, the Steelers also managed to be out-bummed after their own game later Monday night when the Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh’s NFC-based geographical equivalents, lost 32-9 to the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.

So to recap: Cleveland, Miami, Dallas, and Philly all had better seasons/were widely viewed as stronger contenders than Pittsburgh, yet lost in worse fashions and to worse opponents—but the Steelers were just lucky to be there, right? They were the weakest links, right? They didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, right?

When you remember how all of that was said about the Steelers, along with how best player T.J. Watt was not present, and how they were being led by what had previously been a third-string quarterback with no starting experience in the postseason, losing by 14 on the road to Josh Allen’s Bills suddenly doesn’t sound as bad, now does it?

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Again, a 31-17 defeat isn’t exactly the outcome I would’ve recommended, but when literally no one outside of Steeler Nation believed in our guys—and when we already knew that Mike Tomlin likely bought time through them simply making the playoffs—I can’t say I’m heartbroken today. With that, I say good try, Steelers; there’s always next year.