Just when most people (i.e., bandwagon fans, people who are pessimistic by nature, etc.) counted the Steelers out, the Pittsburgh Steelers gut out a big rivalry win against the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 yesterday. While it was not the 503 yards through the air they show against Green Bay, Ben Roethlisberger once again led the Steelers to a season-saving win.
However, was yesterday's win all for naught?
In six days, we will all see if the Steelers are destined to overcome the worst special teams in the league, horrible offensive play calling, questionable coaching decisions, a leaky defense, and of course injuries, to make the playoffs and attempt to defend their Super Bowl title.
One thing that must be made clear is this: The Steelers by no means control their own playoff fate.
They must win against the Miami Dolphins and get help from other teams.
Bad thing is, those other teams involve the New England Patriots (who play the also desperate Houston Texans ) and the division rival Cincinnati Bengals (who play the New York Jets in the final game in Giants Stadium), two teams who clinched their respective divisions yesterday and have no bye week to play for.
Both teams could easily treat the final game of the season like a preseason game, which would destroy the Steelers' 2009 run.
The Steelers can thank two parties for their current predicament: Jim Caldwell and themselves.
Jim Caldwell threw in the towel when he pulled Peyton Manning in a 15-10 game against the desperate New York Jets, who then proceeded to destroy rookie QB Curtis Painter , who is no Peyton Manning.
Heck, Painter is no Paul Justin .
But the Steelers put themselves in this situation, a situation where they need outside help just for a chance at the playoffs.
There should not be too much bickering at Caldwell's decision, which could come back to haunt the rhythm and timing based offense of the Colts. The Colts have every right to do whatever they want. They earned it by winning every game up until yesterday. If the Steelers took care of business during any one of their seven losses, this article would be written much differently.
The Steelers currently own one tie breaker.
They defeated the Broncos earlier this season, would help if both teams are the only ones tied for the last remaining seed.
However, in other tie breakers, the Steelers are not as lucky.
My recommendation for this weekend is this Steeler Nation: Be cautiously optimistic but don't be too depressed if the miracles don't happen because it likely won't.
The Baltimore Ravens lost the game but still came out of Heinz Field controlling their own playoff fates. The Ravens play the unpredictable Oakland Raiders this week. Still, the dream is still alive so keep the hope alive.
Next game: January 3 at Miami Dolphins @ 1 pm Eastern