No matter what, any way you slice it, it’s impossible to deny that this season has been one hell of a ride for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team who lost one of their greatest ever running backs in free agency, saw their greatest wide receiver go AWOL and force a trade, had a coach pass away in training camp, their franchise quarterback go down in Week Two, and still manage a dominant middle of the season to put themselves in playoff position before losing their footing late, efforts led by an undrafted rookie named Duck.
Some of the things that the team has been through this year would be hard to even come up with in a fictional universe, and putting it all together in a coherent yet nevertheless genuinely authentic package is really somewhat mindboggling. But here we are, now at the end of the journey, taking our first steps in the process of digesting the year that was.
Head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t have any profound messages for his players yesterday evening after they dropped their finale against the Baltimore Ravens, a game that they needed to win, though they did not get the help they would have needed to advance anyway.
On his message to his players in the locker room, Tomlin said that he simply told them, “that I appreciated their efforts today, but not only today, all season. We’re not trying to assess it too much, to make too many broad statements”, he continued.
“We’ve got time for that tomorrow and the days that follow. We play on Sundays, we’re evaluating and things of that nature on Mondays. That’s always our philosophical approach, and we don’t take any different approach just because today’s the final game”.
There are plenty of things to be said, almost all of it bad, about the game that was, which saw the Steelers possess the ball for barely a third of the game, and their offense come up short of even 200 total yards, in fact with more net rushing yards than passing, the latter being just 77.
This is a game that featured a safety due to an intentional grounding penalty and a special teams touchdown allowed on a muffed punt and subsequent fumble by the punter into the end zone. It’s fair to say that things simply did not go right for them.
Unfortunately there is no turning back. The season is over, and the only thing there is to do is to assess and then move on. The process is beginning far earlier than we had hoped, but we may need that time simply to process it all anyway.