I will be the first to admit after the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17, all of my hopes for a Pittsburgh Steelers playoff berth were lost. It was now time to simply enjoy the final two games of Ben Roethlisberger‘s Hall of Fame career. My feelings suddenly shifted rapidly as I sat in section 551 at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon and the Jacksonville Jaguars took a 7-0 lead on the Indianapolis Colts. Could this really be happening?
The manner in which yesterday’s events unfolded throughout the NFL was very indicative of what the entire season has been. No one knows anything and nothing should come as a surprise.
The Steelers game versus the Baltimore Ravens was as expected, low scoring, and a game in which even Ravens fans cheered for Roethlisberger as he took the field before kickoff.
A slow start, as we have come to expect with this team, really had me thinking of the worst possible case scenario. Jaguars pull off the ginormous upset, but the Steelers fall short and lose to the Ravens.
The energy began to seriously pickup in the stadium when Steelers and Ravens fans, in unison, cheered as the big board showed the highlights of Jaguars extending their lead. Then, big plays from the defense including a huge red zone interception from Cameron Sutton, and a vintage Roethlisberger did what needed to be done to slip past their rival. The manner in which Roethlisberger remained composed and led his team to an overtime victory was all that we could expect from him in what could have been his final game wearing a Steelers uniform.
Steelers fans everywhere were celebrating a playoff berth because the chances of a possible tie in the nightcap game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders seemed impossible. There was no way this game would go into overtime, nonetheless, need all 70 minutes to crown a winner. Well, that is where we all thought wrong. Sleeping was not an option even when the Raiders had a 15-point lead with just under five minutes to go. The unimaginable was happening. Roethlisberger was going to go out with back to back wins against division rivals, putting all he had left to give, but a playoff berth short because of a stupid tie.
Then, a football god somewhere whispered into Head Coach, Brandon Staley‘s ear to call a timeout with :38 left in overtime. It was almost as if he was trying to get a minute to wink over at Raiders Head Coach, Rich Bisaccia, on the other sideline to take a knee. Thank you Josh Jacobs for picking up the first down, thank you to Coach Bisaccia and Derek Carr for calling a timeout and my goodness, thank you to Daniel Carlson for hitting the game winner. The whole game was surreal and an absolute incredible way to end the regular season.
In what is likely to be Roethlisberger’s last season, the football gods did what they do and now provide him with at least one final playoff game which is something he deserves after how last season ended. Who would have thought the two teams representing the AFC North in the playoffs would be the Bengals and Steelers with the Cleveland Browns and Ravens left out? Many people wrote the Steelers off all season, but collectively as a team and with some old school luck from their franchise player of the last 18 years, Mike Tomlin‘s team is postseason bound.
While the odds are stacked against Roethlisberger and the Steelers, they were back in the 2005-06’ season as well. Not to mention, in his 18-year career, the veteran QB has never lost at the same road venue twice in one season. The Steelers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 36-10 in Week 16. In 2005, the Steelers got beat up by a Peyton Manning led Colts team 27-6 in the regular season, but went on to defeat them in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
So you’re saying there’s a chance? What are your thoughts on Roethlisberger having one more crack at a Super Bowl? Let us know in the comments below!