The Steeler season is over, and talk about ending on a down note. Not only losing in the first round of the playoffs, but losing to the hated Cleveland Browns. I have been a Steeler fan long enough to remember, a season would be considered a success, even if we won only two games, as long as those two wins would be against those damn Browns. To lose to them in the playoffs, when we had beaten them handily, not that long ago, and barely losing to them a week ago, while resting many of our starters, is a hard pill to swallow. Despite the opening disastrous play, Ben’s 3 interceptions, and the defenses inability to keep the Browns out of the endzone, the score was 35 to 23 Browns, with about 2 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. We had just had two beautiful scoring drives, to cut the lead and Cleveland had just gone 3 and out. We had a 4th and 1, around our own 45 yard line. We made the decision to punt. You could see how this energized the Browns offense, and they went down the field, and scored a touchdown to increase the lead to 42-23 and essentially the game was over. Tomlin will be criticized for this decision, and rightfully so. It was the wrong decision. However, you can’t really blame him. This team has had trouble making a yard all year. This was not a long 4th and 1 but exactly 1 yard to get a first down, and keep our momentum going. Twice this year, the Steelers have had 1st and goal at the one and did not score. There have been many other times this year, that the Steelers had third or fourth down and 1 and did not make it. Tomlin could not have been all that confident about making the first down, with this teams previous history. However, you have just come off playing one of the worse first halves in Steeler playoff history, and you had cut the lead to 12 from 28. It was time to go for it. He failed to realize that this was a pivotal moment in the game. It was time to roll the dice. Instead, because he had little or no confidence that they could make the first down, he made the safe decision. It cost us all hope. If the Steelers had not made the first down, it may have given the defense more resolve, because we made the aggressive move, and went down swinging. We will never know, and the season has come to an abrupt end. What’s next?
These are my guesses, and it is based on how this organization has functioned in the past. Tomlin and Ben will be back. I think some coaches will go. Both coordinators and maybe the offensive line coach will be looking for jobs. There will be some veterans let go to help with the salary cap. I think they will sign Ju Ju and T. J. After that who knows. I think the Steelers will still be very competitive next year and probably make the playoffs. The Steelers have always been able to manage the salary cap very well and I expect that to continue. I think the players will continue to play well overall. They will add with the draft. This team does have talent. It will be up to the brass of the Steelers to bring out the best in this group, if next year is going to be better.