The Steelers steamrolled the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night and got some help from the Bengals on Sunday afternoon, and won their first AFC North championship since 2004. They'll hold either the 3rd or 4th seed in the AFC playoffs, and will host a game in the wild card round.
The Steelers lost consecutive games for the first time this season, in a different kind of embarrassing fashion. On the bright side, Pittsburgh is now home to two professional football teams: the Good Steelers and the Bad Steelers.
This team has been maddeningly inconsistent all season long, notching big wins followed by even bigger losses. Now, a team that sat at 9-3 just two weeks ago (contemplating the big prizes like a division title and a first round bye) is in a precarious must-win situation with two weeks to go. The Steelers need one win to clinch a playoff spot and two wins to clinch the division.
The New England Patriots possess the best passing game I've seen since the days of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Brent Jones and Roger Craig.
They're built to throw long, throw short, throw inside, throw outside, throw quick, throw slowly, whatever. They're near impossible to stop, and they make no effort to do anything else, such as that archaic old ploy called running the ball. They've mastered one aspect of football, and it's set them apart in their quest for their 4th championship of this decade. Before, the Pats were one of many good teams who all had a shot at a Super Bowl. Big game team? Yes. Clutch team? Yes. Dominant team? Nope. It's all changed, and it will take a herculean effort by some team to put a halt to their growing unbeaten streak. It's happened before. It can happen again. It can happen with the Steelers.
The 2007 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers is not one of the top teams in the league and by no means should they be considered a favorite in the AFC come playoff time. And you know what? I'm fine with that, on one condition: they address their issues intelligently in the offseason and don't accept the status quo as "good enough."
11/26/2006 - 2nd and 8 at the Pittsburgh 14 yard line. Ben Roethlisberger drops back to pass. Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott rushes from the left side of the defense, and is coming unblocked by the offensive line. Willie Parker is too late to pick him up. Scott pummels Roethlisberger in the chest. The Ravens go on to win, 27-0.