Just stop. If you keep trying to make sense of this 2015 Pittsburgh Steeler football season, you’ll drive yourself nuts. So don’t.
On Sunday, Pittsburgh looked ugly but won in Cleveland 28-12. And the Jets finally remembered they were the Jets and lost in Buffalo thanks to a missed field goal, three interceptions, and a bad punt.
So the Steelers are in the playoffs. And the Jets are out. Trying to figure out how the Steelers wound up playing elimination football in January is an exercise in futility.
These Steelers proved they can beat NFC power Arizona with Landry Jones as the QB. But they can lose to Ryan Mallett and a four-win Baltimore club with the playoffs on the line.
The defense can be sack happy a create turnovers in one game. Then they’ll look like a powder puff team that has an allergy to tackling the next week.
The offense makes Swiss cheese out of division leading competition at home. It can barely get out of its own way on the road.
Ben Roethlisberger makes you forget Terry Bradshaw for a month. And at times he makes you long for Cliff Stoudt.
At the end of November they were on the bubble. Going into Christmas, they were “the team no one wanted to face in the playoffs.” Coming out of Christmas they were thinking about the draft. After game 16, they are back in the playoff bracket again.
I’d like to say this this is the most confounding Steeler team in recent memory. But I can’t. because I can remember last year. When they won the division…yet managed to lose against the Jets, Bucs, Saints, and Browns. All of whom finished below .500.
I remember the 2013 team that started 0-4…then 2-6…then finished 6-2 and was packing its bags for the postseason when Kansas City’s Ryan Succop lined up for a 41 yard field goal against the Chargers that, well, never mind.
I remember the 2012 team team that was given up for dead after committing eight turnovers in Cleveland. Then they upset the Ravens in Baltimore. Then they lost to three teams in December.
This is who the Steelers are under Mike Tomlin. It’s been that way for the most part since his Super Bowl win in 2008. The more you think you know them, the more they defy you. In Tomlin’s two Super Bowl seasons, the Steelers were remarkably consistent. They were 12-4 in both seasons. They were 3-1 in every monthly four-week stretch of those seasons. All eight combined defeats were “quality losses” against teams that made the playoffs.
In Tomlin’s other seven seasons, the Steelers have been all over the board. They are just as likely to lose to a last place team as they are to defeat an eventual conference champion. This year is no different.
Why wouldn’t they beat beat division leading Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Denver? And why wouldn’t they lose to a written off Baltimore club twice and struggle for three quarters against Austin Davis and the Browns in week 17? Why wouldn’t they make us all believe that they were a wildcat lying in wait for the AFC playoff bracket at 9-5 as they ended up being so in 2005? And why wouldn’t they make us feel like we should be checking out the draft order instead of playoff odds heading into the final Sunday at 9-6?
This is who they are. The Tomlin era Steelers define the phrase “consistently inconsistent.” This year just feels more crazy because the reality was almost being bumped OUT at 10-6 as opposed to almost sneaking IN at 8-8 in ‘12 &’13. Because we’ve seen three quarterbacks, three running backs, two centers, two left tackles, two pot suspensions, misfiring headsets, and a running clock in a San Diego pear tree.
But we’ve seen this movie before. Now it’s just time for the final act to change and result in a playoff win. Something Pittsburghers haven’t seen since the 2010 AFC title game at Heinz Field against the Jets.
Will they do it? Can they win in Cincy again next week? Does it matter if Andy Dalton plays? I’m not going to pretend to know. However it unfolds, I just expect it’ll do so in a manner that makes us all insane.