If there’s one thing we knew heading into week 11 of the 2013 NFL season, it’s that hope is still very much alive for several teams hovering near or below the .500 mark. With the way this year has gone for many teams, we have been reminded more than ever that on any given Sunday, any team can win.
As the Pittsburgh Steelers looked to continue and revive their playoff hopes in a division that’s closer than it was a few weeks ago, they had to knock off the NFC North division-leading Detroit Lions. With an offense like Detroit coming to town, they were prepared to have to score a lot of points.
Calvin Johnson did a number on the Steelers’ defense early on and finished with six catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns, but in the end it was Ben Roethlisberger’s day. Pittsburgh won 37-27 behind four touchdowns from Roethlisberger and 367 yards passing — he did not throw an interception.
Halfway across the country, the Chicago Bears were playing host to the Steelers’ divisional rival Baltimore Ravens in an important game of their own. If the Bears won, they would match Detroit in the win column. More importantly, once the Steelers ended up winning, they would then be tied with Detroit for the division lead.
Knocking off the Ravens would mean that Pittsburgh would jump into a tie with Baltimore and the Cleveland Browns, as they look to crawl their way back into the race.
Well, a near-two hour rain delay and almost six hours later, the Bears did indeed defeat the Ravens in an overtime thriller on the leg of Robbie Gould’s game-winning field goal. With the victor, Chicago heads into week 12 tied for a division lead and securing a bit more hope going forward as they search for a playoff berth.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has a longer road in front of them but at 4-6 the season is far from being lost. A 9-7 record could wind up winning this division when it’s all said and done, and mathematically we know that is still possible. For the Steelers to have that opportunity, they’re going to need a little help from the Cincinnati Bengals, hoping they drop a couple of games including one when the two teams go head to head on December 15th.
Week 11 was a perfectly-executed business deal between two teams in opposite conferences. Fortunately for both Pittsburgh and Chicago, both sides held up their respective end of that deal, making the rest of this season all the more exciting.