This was an excellent season for the Steelers, aside from the way it ended.
A 12-5 record is nothing to sneeze at. The Steelers did not lose to any team that didn't eventually make the playoffs. The same cannot be said about any other playoff team this year.
They were in the hunt for a first round bye until the end of the season and locked up their playoff appearance before eventual division champs, the Baltimore Ravens.
They were the number one ranked defense in the regular season in total yards, passing yards, and scoring.
They made the playoffs despite an alarming lack of turnover production and an almost embarrassing tendency to give the ball away themselves. In fact, of all the playoff teams, the Steelers were worst in turnover differential with -13. The only other playoff team to have a negative turnover differential? The Denver Broncos (-12).
In the end, any season that does not end with the Steelers winning the last game of the year is viewed as a sub-par season in Pittsburgh, but consider what that says about the Steelers and the citizens of The Steelers Nation. We have become so used to the Steelers winning every year that anything less than a championship is considered a failure.
It is hard to win the Super Bowl. Parity has ensured that every team has a chance to win every year. It is nothing for a team to go from worst to first in the NFL. The Steelers have finished under .500 four times in the last 20 years while making the playoffs 14 times in that same period. They have played in three Super Bowls in the last six years and won two of them.
The only team that can boast that kind of consistency in the recent past is New England and they play in the mediocre AFC East. The Steelers play in one of the toughest divisions in the league, and have to play a team that is exactly like them twice a year every year.
The fact that the Steelers consistently win year in and year out is a testament to their owners, coaches, and players.
Few other teams in any sport can claim such a record of excellence.
So take heart, fellow citizens of The One and Only Nation, for the Steelers will be back.
How do I know? I know because they are the Pittsburgh Steelers.