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Week 14 Recap: Close But No Cigar Playoffs

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Brown Tomlin

As the first half came to an end in yesterday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins, the Fins attempted an insane 52 yard field goal on the snow covered field into the notorious open end of the stadium. Predictably, the kick fell about ten yards short where Troy Polamalu caught it on the fly. Troy being Troy, he immediately took off running in an attempt to recreate Auburn-Alabama. After one of several laterals was miraculously caught by Ike Taylor, he decided not to tempt fate and fell on the ball rather than attempt a lateral of his own. It was one of the greatest meaningless plays I’ve ever seen.

Until the final play of the game.

After a failed fourth down conversion handed Miami a first down on the Steelers 9, the Dolphins milked the clock, ultimately settling for a field goal with a minute left. Three plays later, the Steelers were reduced to a desperate game of hook and lateral that ended when Antonio Brown some how broke free down the sideline and ran untouched for what looked to be a miraculous go-ahead touchdown. Unfortunately, AB’s pinky toe just nipped the sideline on his way to the end zone, thus preserving Miami’s 34-28 victory.

And that’s how the Black and Gold’s 2013 season will end – by a pinky toe.

The Steelers aren’t mathematically eliminated from the AFC Playoff hunt. For all intents and purposes, however, they’re done. Miami now holds a two game lead and the tiebreaker – basically a three game cushion – with only three weeks left. What’s more, the Baltimore Ravens somehow pulled off a last second miracle against Minnesota to pad their advantage to two games. The combination of wins and losses the Steelers now need to earn the second AFC Wild Card is so complex, the chances of them playing in January are less then 1%.

If you truly love the Steelers, honestly the best thing from here on out is for them to lose and better their draft position.

First things first. What happened this week? Well, the game was one of missed opportunities for the Black and Gold. On Miami’s first pass of the game, Troy jumped the route and the ball hit him square in the chest with nothing but green white grass ahead of him. Naturally, he dropped it. Troy would redeem himself later with a twisting leaping Pick Six that gave the Steelers their first lead of the afternoon late in the third quarter. Overall Troy played a pretty lousy game, lowlighted by two big missed tackles, the last of which led to the game-winning touchdown.

The first half was played in snow globe-like conditions which benefited Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers run game. Bell was a dual threat running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield as he amassed the majority of his yardage (15 carries for 61 yards, 5 catches for 28) in the first half. Pittsburgh’s second drive of the game was a 12 play 7 minute 74 yard slog where Bell touched the ball 8 times. It was capped by a 5 yard TD reception by Emmanuel Sanders, who immediately went into an idiotic dance routine.

Later in the game, Sanders would be targeted for a crucial first down conversion which he would drop. As much shit we’ve given AB for his dumb celebrations, at least Brown has more often than not made big plays worth celebrating. Meanwhile, you can count on two fingers how many key catches Sanders has had this season, yet he catches a TD and thinks he’s Kanye West. Have fun in Buffalo next year, assclown.

Despite both offenses sputtering in the first half, the Steelers D was pitching a shut out when Ben Roethlisberger was hit from behind and the ball popped out deep in their own territory. With Cortez Allen – who drew the match-up with Mike Wallace rather than Ike Taylor – giving Wallace generous 10 yard cushions, Miami strolled into the end zone four plays later. All of a sudden a 7-3 lead became a 10-7 deficit.

LaMarr Woodley returned from injury and rotated with Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones at OLB. It was pointless because Woodley was a non-factor while Worilds had another monster game, recording 8 tackles and 2 sacks. I’m not sure why our moronic coaches couldn’t see that Worilds should be cemented in Woodley’s spot with Woodley playing in place of rookie Jarvis Jones. Miami’s early field goal was entirely on Jones as the rookie once again bit on a fake, lost containment, and allowed QB Ryan Tannehill to rumble 48 yards down field.

The other defensive star for the Steelers yesterday was of course Cam Heyward. Heyward, perhaps angry about Ohio State’s choke job against Michigan State the night before, took out his frustrations on the Dolphins. He was literally piledriving dudes into the turf left and right. There’s not a much better sight these days Cam Heyward when he’s in full Beast Mode.

Unfortunately, Cam and Worilds got precious little help from the rest of the defense. Ziggy Hood and Steve McClendon were banged up and it showed. Meanwhile, Allen had a terrible game, getting absolutely torched by slow-ass TE Charles Clay on a 40 yard bomb that got Miami back in the game when they were on the ropes. Other than Troy’s pick, the defense did next to nothing in the second half as Miami ran up and down the field seemingly at will. It was an all-around lousy defensive effort, compounded by inexcusable missed tackles and bogus penalties.

Seriously, how much did the refs have on the Fins?

Let’s not lose focus of who lost the game, though. The Steelers made many many mistakes, mostly on defense but also on offense, that contributed to their losing effort. It seemed like whenever the Steelers would be on the verge of getting something going, a holding call would nullify a first down or a drop would sabotage a drive. Even normally dependable Heath Miller killed one drive by failing to secure what would’ve been a first down. Add up all these little mistakes, factor in Miami is a pretty good team while the Steelers are pretty average and you have a recipe for a heart-breaking loss.

A loss that likely spells the end of the 2013 campaign here in Pittsburgh. Oh, there are still three games left to be played but all that’s left to play for is pride. And while clawing their way out of the 0-4 hole they dug for themselves shows this Steeler team may be many things but they aren’t quitters, for the good of the future perhaps it’d be best if they took the foot off the gas down the stretch. ‘Cause if you’re not playing for January, might as well play for April.