“Unfinished business” is a phrase that necessarily gets kicked around a lot by those who fail to accomplish their goals. It’s no surprise then that we find the daunting yet motivating phrase leaking out of the mouths of a number of players for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have quite a bit of unfinished business in the postseason.
It has been a decade since the Steelers last won the Super Bowl. They last reached the game in 2010, and ended it with a loss, which included a highly costly fumble at a moment that appeared to have the potential for a turning point.
After that, they went 12-4 yet still failed to win the division, and were Tebow’d out of the playoffs in the Wildcard Round. They would go on to miss the postseason entirely for the next two years before slowly climbing the hill back toward the top.
In 2014, they managed to win the division, but were dethroned in the Wildcard Round by the Ravens. The next year, a battered unit was able to reach the Divisional Round, and finally, last season’s team reached the AFC Championship game, where they were thoroughly humbled by the New England Patriots.
“We have always felt like we haven’t finished what we kind of started”, running back Le’Veon Bell said recently heading into the postseason. “Last year was a crazy run; we go into the AFC Championship Game without all of our players that we necessarily need. I end up getting hurt and run down. And it cost us”.
Bell bowed out early in the game with a groin injury that was already an issue. Outside of Antonio Brown, their wide receiver group was woefully depleted. They were without Cameron Heyward, among others, as well, while more still played through notable injuries.
This year, they hope, will be different. By and large, they are healthy or getting healthy, the obvious exception being Ryan Shazier. They played the Patriots down to the wire and no doubt believe they should have won.
“We end up losing this year to the Patriots and we didn’t have AB in the second half” Bell said. “We want to feel like we’re going in full power, full strength for the playoffs and if we lose, then we’ll be like ‘okay, we lost at full strength, there’s nothing we can say about it. There’s no more excuses now’”.
There has always seemed to be some justification or other to explain why a team that believes it is so stocked with talent has been unable to advance as far as their ambitions would have them. Those excuses are largely absent this year, especially in a season during which they have weathered storms of controversy to a 13-3 record and a week off.