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NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

5 Worst Losses for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013

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Top 5 Losses for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013

Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As we begin the new year, all but 12 NFL franchises are packing up for the season and heading home for the offseason. You can include the Pittsburgh Steelers in that group that will not be participating in postseason football for the second straight year. With the sting of a lost season comes the realization that a lot of things could have gone differently and could have ultimately changed the complexion of the season, but players, coaches and fans alike are left to ponder the "what ifs" and realize it is over.

The Steelers had plenty of these types of games in the 2013 season. After all, when a team starts out 0-4 at the first quarter point of the season then is 2-6 at the halfway point there isn't much to celebrate. However, not every loss is created equal. After all, a loss to the New England Patriots doesn't look as bad as a loss to the Oakland Raiders.

When a season as disappointing as the Steelers' happens it is easy to pinpoint key losses that ultimately ended any type of chances for the postseason. A good majority of these five games occurred in the first half of the season, but some were in the latter parts as well.

Every team can look back and say "what if" or wonder what might have been had the ball bounced one way or an official made a questionable call, but for the Pittsburgh Steelers you can look back on five games as turning points in the season for more than one reason. Here are those five games that did in the Pittsburgh Steelers and their playoff hopes.

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

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5. Week 1 vs. Tennessee Titans

Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

On opening day at Heinz Field the Pittsburgh Steelers took the field only to see one of the more unlikely starts to a game possibly in NFL history. The Tennessee Titans kick returner fielded the ball, stepped out of the end zone, then back into the end zone for a safety. Just like that it was 2-0 Steelers. When everyone thought the rout was on it went downhill fast.

Maurkice Pouncey tore his ACL on the eighth play from scrimmage, the offense sputtered its way around the field, and the defense was its typical "bend don't break" fashion.

When the dust settled, the Steelers had only gained 194 yards of total offense, had two huge turnovers and ultimately lost their home opener to the Titans. Steelers fans everywhere were stunned at what they just witnessed. Little did they know there were worse problems on the horizon.

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4. Week 4 at Minnesota Vikings (London)

Pittsburgh Steelers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the Steelers came out of the gates losing their first three games to the Tennessee Titans, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Chicago Bears, Steelers fans everywhere thought the perfect remedy would be the also winless Minnesota Vikings. The only difference was that this road game wasn't in Minnesota but in London, England.

The Steelers didn't leave for London until late in the week, looked visibly tired and played as tired as they looked. Unlike the loss to the Titans in Week 1, it was the defense that forgot to show up in London.

The Steelers' offense put up nearly 400 yards and rookie Le'Veon Bell made his NFL debut scoring two rushing touchdowns for Pittsburgh. However, the defense allowed a Matt Cassel led Vikings team to 434 total yards, Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings each scored two touchdowns, and two costly turnovers by Ben Roethlisberger made a recipe for disaster.

The loss not only crushed the Steelers' morale and confidence, but they became just another statistic of a team that won't likely make the postseason as it has only been done once in NFL history from 0-4.

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3. Week 8 at Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Steelers lost to the Minnesota Vikings in London, they bounced back and won their next two games against the New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens. Next up? A trip to Oakland the face the Raiders. It looked as if the Steelers were poised to move their record to 3-4 and slowly start their climb out of the cellar, and then the game started.

After a Shaun Suisham kick that was returned to their own seven-yard line, Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor kept an option read and ran 93 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. That was just the beginning.

After three turnovers and three Suisham field goal attempts missed, it was obvious that it simply wasn't the Steelers' day. The only problem was that instead of going 3-4, the Steelers fell to 2-5 and even further from any type of hope for postseason play.

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2. Week 13 at Baltimore Ravens (Thanksgiving Night)

Pittsburgh Steelers
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers surprisingly defeated the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field earlier in the season for their second win of the season, and the winner of the Thanksgiving Day game in Baltimore would be in the driver's seat to control their own destiny when it came to finding their way into the AFC Playoffs at season's end.

Steelers fans were livid with the offensive start of the Steelers as they ran five straight running plays, and the defense did more breaking than bending as the team went into halftime losing 10-0. However, the Steelers eventually settled in and started playing better offensively and defensively in the second half. They were a two-point conversion away from sending the game to overtime.

However, it was the ending of the game that made fans even more angry in terms of how the NFL game is turning into a sideshow with the officials. There were two touchdowns that looked like no-brainer calls that got called back, and the second gave rookie running back Le'Veon Bell a concussion. The Steelers eventually scored and were unsuccessful in their two-point conversion attempt as they lost a huge game to their arch rivals. From that point on, Steelers fans knew the team would need help to revitalize their playoff hopes.

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1. Week 14 vs. Miami Dolphins

Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Ten days after the fiasco that was the Thanksgiving night game, the Pittsburgh Steelers welcomed the Miami Dolphins to Heinz Field in the perfect conditions for a victory. The warm weather Dolphins came to Pittsburgh in the middle of a snow storm. As inches of snow kept falling, it was the Dolphins that looked as if they were the team that is used to the conditions.

The Steelers' defense allowed over 180 yards rushing, and even though the team's offense put up 28 points and had over 400 total yards it wasn't enough. This was a game of execution where the Steelers fumbled the ball in a critical situation, the defense couldn't tackle and the team's lack of fundamentals was glaring.

The Steelers not only lost this game but saw their playoff hopes diminish to almost nothing at the same time. Turns out they still almost had their miracle playoff berth happen, but these five losses were all huge disappointments for a team that could be playing January football if just one of these games had gone the other way.