Pittsburgh Steelers' Latest Loss All But Sinks Playoff Hopes

By Jeff Hartman
Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

In retrospect, this game was fitting in many different ways. Just as their season had started so poorly, only to have the team attempt to claw their way back, they find themselves falling just short in the end. This game paralleled that same sentiment. As the contest that was both ugly and unbelievable came down to inches, and as it has always seemed this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves falling short yet again.

After the Steelers’ season-crippling loss to the Miami Dolphins, Steelers faithful were up in arms with their favorite football team. Everything from the offensive coordinator, the head coach, the owner and even the fans themselves were turning on one another. However, if you look at the situation and this team, there is plenty of blame to go around for everyone to get a slice of the pie, not just one person in particular.

This game had it all for the Steelers. Horrible tackling, dropped passes and even coaching blunders; but when it all boils down to it, they simply didn’t do enough to keep this losing team afloat in the AFC Playoff picture.

For me, I have one question for Steelers fans everywhere: did you really want to see this team make the postseason?

Most fans will probably say yes, but if this team would have somehow made the dance and had to play a team like the New England Patriots again or the Denver Broncos, it would have been ugly. This team simply is not a team that can put themselves in the category of contender, instead falling directly into the pretender category.

The Dolphins tried to give the game away yesterday and even with their attempts, the Steelers couldn’t manage to make enough plays to find a victory on home soil. Antonio Brown continued his Pro Bowl season with 137 yards receiving and a touchdown, and was literally inches away from a miracle play in the waning moments of the game.

Ben Roethlisberger surpassed Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw for most passing touchdowns in team history, and had another spectacular game other than a fumble. Troy Polamalu had an interception returned back for a touchdown that resembled the Troy of old, but even with these accolades, it wasn’t enough for the mediocre Steelers.

The mistakes certainly did outweigh the positive plays on Sunday. Roethlisberger’s fumble, the myriad of missed tackles, the blown assignments on defense and the dropped passes were again the Achilles’ heel of this team that did a great job making the fan base think they could actually come back from their 0-4 start and climb into the playoffs in one of the weakest of AFC playoff pictures in recent memory.

The Steelers still have three games remaining. Technically, they are not mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture, but that is merely a technicality. The best Pittsburgh can now finish is 8-8, which marks the second consecutive season without a winning record. Barring a modern-day Christmas miracle, this will be the second year in a row that they do not make the postseason.

Remember when 10 wins a season were a given? Ah, those were the good old days.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates.  Follow him on  Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+

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