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With the hype and hysteria that is associated with greatness, the modern Steelers have fallen from great heights, underperforming badly.
Twice, the team has failed to reach the playoffs following a championship season. After another Super Bowl campaign, the Black and Gold played so poorly in the Wild Card round that many fans likely almost wished they hadn't made the postseason at all.
Apparent improvements and the return of an all-star, championship-caliber roster has many fans in the Steel City dreaming of "No. 7," and no, I'm not referring to Big Ben, gentlemen!
Conversely, some experts are hesitant to figure the Steelers for much more than another close-call playoff berth, citing a youth movement and some veteran losses as their main areas of concern.
Angrily, many loyal fans have certainly lashed out against the above-referenced "expert" analysis. However, fanatics should not fret...
This is exactly the way the Steelers want things.
The Black and Gold have always performed better when they feel disrespected or insulted, like their backs are against the wall, fighting to force those who denounced them to pay notice to the greatness they know they possess deep down.
Under the radar, the Steelers, to put it bluntly, kick butt.
The phenomenon goes back to the beginning of the new millennium.
In 2001, the Steelers came off of three consecutive non-playoff seasons to go 13-3.
With all of the hype of a team fighting back from a "fluke" loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship, the '02 squad reeked more potently than Brussels stink cheese to start the season. Kordell was benched, and Tommy Maddox infused a new energy in the suddenly pass-happy squad.
With the hysteria surrounding Maddox, the passing game, offensive philosophy and team were horrific in 2003.
Having lost the credit they'd earned earlier in the decade, the 2004 team, with the aid of a certain rookie phenom, went 15-1, narrowly missing the Super Bowl.
In 2005, they accomplished "One for the Thumb."
In 2006, the defending champs missed the playoffs.
In '07, those discounting the Steelers were surprised to see them rebound for a playoff season under first year head coach Mike Tomlin. One year later, with nowhere near championship expectations and doomsday prognostications regarding the "most difficult schedule in decades," the team dominated opponents en route to a sixth Lombardi Trophy.
2009 came and went, playoff-less.
In 2010, with low expectations around NFL circles, they went back to the Super Bowl.
Then, last year, they got Tebow'ed.
Headed into the new year, most experts see Pittsburgh as a viable playoff team, but can anyone show me a major network analyst who predicts the Steelers—two mere years removed from Super Sunday—making it to or winning the AFC Championship, sinner the NFL title?
If flying under the radar is conducive to winning in the Steelers locker room (and it is), all Steelers fans should then agree that the more negativity offered their way, the better!