The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Columnists

December 29, 2013

SHAWN CURTIS| Steelers fairy tale falls flat in San Diego

PITTSBURGH — The storybook closed down hard on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoff hopes Sunday evening.

When it looked like everything was going to fall in place for Pittsburgh, which faced 400:1 odds of making the postseason after a 34-28 loss to the Dolphins on Dec. 8, the San Diego Chargers dashed those dreams.

After the Steelers entered Sunday with a 5.5 percent chance of reaching the playoffs, they pieced together a 20-7 win over the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

While that was going on, the New York Jets dropped the Miami Dolphins. Then, the Cincinnati Bengals’ win over the Baltimore Ravens – yes, the defending Super Bowl champions – went final.

That just left the Chiefs and the Chargers to decide the Steelers’ postseason fate.

The Chiefs, who gained nothing from a win and started 20 backups, even held a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

Those who were writing the team off and inquiring about how long it was until the Pittsburgh Pirates resumed play after the Dolphins loss were anxiously hoping for the Chiefs to hold on.

It didn’t quite work out like that.

San Diego overcame that deficit.

Then the Chargers dodged a bullet as Ryan Succop missed a 41-yard field goal try with 4 seconds remaining in regulation.

Then an apparent fumble on a fake punt try early in overtime was ruled to not be a fumble.

That benefited the Chargers immensely. San Diego eventually drove to a field goal and held off the Chiefs’ response drive.

San Diego moves on. Pittsburgh doesn’t.

Kind of frustrating when you think about all the help that the Steelers needed to even sniff the postseason when they were 5-8.

They received it all except for the final piece.

Even more frustrating when you consider the erratic play that led to an 0-4 start and a 2-6 mark at the season’s midway point.

The Steelers took care of their own business late.

A prime-time win against  AFC North champion Cincinnati on Dec. 15 preceded a Dec. 22 win over Green Bay at Lambeau Field.

Then came the win over hapless Cleveland on Sunday.

Had they done that earlier in the season, the Chargers’ 27-24 win would have meant nothing aside from a nice ending to a 9-7 season in San Diego and hope for the future.

Now it means that the Chargers trek to Cincinnati to start a wide-open AFC playoff tournament where it’s conceivable that any of the six teams in the field have a shot at a Super Bowl berth.

That could have been Pittsburgh.

Even when the standard in Pittsburgh is Lombardi Trophy or bust, the Steelers’ finish was a tremendous testament to their resiliency.

Only one other team - San Diego in 1992 - had started 0-4 and made the playoffs.

The Chargers did it with a little more style than the Steelers would have, finishing that year on an 11-1 tear and winning the AFC West.

January may not seem right without the Steelers, but it’s the reality for a second straight winter.

Despite that, one could gather that the Steelers were somewhat pleased with their 6-2 finish, even if it didn’t end in a postseason berth.

“I feel like we gave it our all,” linebacker Lawrence Timmons said after the Steelers’ win.

“You get what you put into it. Just to put a performance out there for our fans in the last game at Heinz Field and to get a win like that – a great team win – is beautiful.”

Even Ben Roethlisberger appreciated the finish after decreeing that the Steelers may have been the league’s worst team at 0-4 following a loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 29 in London.

“I’m really proud of what has happened,” Roethlisberger said.

“We started 0-4 and things aren’t looking so good. And we have one of the worst records in football. Guys continued to fight and never quit. I will look at satisfaction as happy and proud of the fight and no one quitting.”

Now comes the part where the Steelers could make some difficult personnel decisions – involving some very popular stalwarts - between now and September.

Until then, don’t lose too much sleep over a regular season that ended up being one of the most compelling in recent years – at least following Thanksgiving.

Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Columnists
  • Local Columnists

    Robin L. Quillon
    Chip Minemyer
    Tom Lavis
    Mike Mastovich
    Cory Isenberg
    Eric Knopsnyder
    Ralph Couey
    Zachary Hubbard
    Michele Bender
    Bill Eggert
    David Knepper

    William Lloyd
     

    July 6, 2010

  • Curtis, Shawn SHAWN CURTIS | Pirates win has familiar feel

    As much as all the fuzzy feelings of the 2013 season came to an end when Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano fired a first-pitch strike to Emilio Bonifacio at 1:14 p.m. on Monday afternoon at PNC Park, the 1-0 win took the shape that many Pittsburgh wins did a season ago.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eric Knopsnyder ERIC KNOPSNYDER | A fresh take on funnies

    Did you notice some funny business in our comics pages recently?
    Many of you did and contacted the newsroom to ask why “Doonesbury” and “For Better or For Worse” were no longer appearing in our publication.
    There’s a simple explanation: They are no longer being produced.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Basketball officials never win

    Today’s column bounces from local politics to basketball after two previous articles concentrated on Jesse Topper’s successful launch into a new career as a state representative.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Michele Mikesic Bender | Playing the name game

    So, did you decide on the ‘popcorn dress’  for the church dinner?” asked Judi, my Communion Lady.
    “No, I think the ‘hydrangea dress’ might be better,’’ I answered.
    “You name your clothes?” Denise’s jaw dropped.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Bill Eggert | A heartfelt message of thanks

    February is the month the medical community sets aside for matters related to heart health. That makes sense, given that Valentine’s Day is right in the middle of the month. So it was ironic that I found myself dealing with the matter of the heart in a serious way this month.
    This column is a valentine to the staff of the Conemaugh Health System.

    February 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Answering the call, wherever it leads

    My last column dwelled extensively on the qualifications of Jesse Topper, the multitalented, highly-respected and popular former executive minister at Bedford Methodist Church.
    Left unanswered was the question “why” – why did the newly-elected state representive choose to turn away from what many believed was his destiny to be an ordained pastor?

    February 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL: Election win a loss for church

    Folks at Bedford United Methodist Church had a difficult decision to make at Tuesday’s special election to determine the successor to the late state Rep. Dick Hess.
    It was all about wanting the best for Republican candidate Jesse Topper but not wanting to deal with the likelihood of his leaving his church position for an opportunity that is far different from what he is so ably doing.

    January 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Bill Eggert: Elvis remains the King

    Last week we marked the birthday of an American original: the late Elvis Presley.
    Jan. 8, 2015, will mark his 80th birthday.
    This is hard to wrap our minds around given Elvis always seems to remain forever young, frozen in time.

    January 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bender_Michele.JPG Best New Years Eves ever

    Happy 2014!  2014? How did that happen?

    January 4, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads