How Pittsburgh Steelers Can Still Make Playoffs After Key Week 15 Loss

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 02:  Running back Jonathan Dwyer #27 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a touchdown as free safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens tries to tackle him during the third quarter of the Steelers 23-20 win at M&T Bank Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

After losing a critical game to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15, the Pittsburgh Steelers can still make the playoffs.

And believe it or not, they still control their own destiny. 

All the Steelers need to do to get into the postseason tournament is win their last two games.

Easy, right?

With a record of 7-7 and a crucial game against the Cincinnati Bengals next weekend—the team currently ahead of the Steelers in the AFC standings for the No. 6 seed—Pittsburgh can clinch a playoff spot with a two-game winning streak to end the season.

But that's not all, folks. 

The Steelers can also get into the playoffs if they win one of their last two games, provided they beat the Bengals in Week 16 and the Bengals lose to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17. 

If the Steelers lose next week, all bets are off, because the Bengals would have a better record within their division than Pittsburgh, no matter what happens in Week 17.

With that in mind, let's take a look at a couple things the Steelers need to do better to end the season on a high note.


Get After Opposing Quarterbacks

Philip Rivers and Tony Romo were only sacked once apiece during the past two games—a huge reason the Steelers haven't been able to slow down the passing game during this stretch. During these past two games, the two of them combined for 541 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.

As a matter of fact, the Steelers haven't gotten a good pass-rush all year long, tallying just 26 sacks all year long—good for No. 23 in the NFL

Andy Dalton will have a field day next weekend if the Steelers can't get pressure on the young gunslinger, as A.J. Green will be able to find open spaces in the Steelers secondary, given enough time. 


Rediscover a Running Game

The last time the Steelers had more than 100 yards rushing was way back in Week 11 when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the game in which Byron Leftwich couldn't throw the ball in the second half.

Since then, the Steelers have averaged just 71 yards on the ground and have scored three touchdowns. 

The Steelers' offensive line isn't good enough at pass protection to succeed often without the benefit of a running game to keep opposing pass-rushers honest. 

Roethlisberger's been sacked six times the past two games, and given his recent health issues, it's absolutely imperative for the Steelers to find a running game. If he gets hurt again, the Steelers don't have a chance at doing anything positive in the playoffs—if they indeed get in.


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