Last Year - By Neal Coolong
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Last year, I laughed throughout December when I heard analysts on ESPN call the San Diego Chargers "the best team to ever not make the playoffs."
Am I hypocritical to suggest now the 2006 Steelers have a legitimate argument to enter that conversation?
What's more, does that make me even more frustrated, considering the Steelers had no business losing five of six of the games they were a little behind when time ran out?
Yeah, probably. I'm too numb to even care, though.
Due to CBS's decision to show the scintillating ending of the worst NFL game this season -- Miami's win over the overrated Bears -- the Minneapolis market didn't get to see the Broncos jump to a 14-0 lead. But the silver lining was we didn't have to see Santonio Holmes fumble for at least the 5,000th time this season.
But as if on cue, Holmes put another one on the ground just a few minutes after CBS picked up the broadcast midway through the first quarter.
SteelerBro was more than slightly miffed over his ability to simply hold on to the ball, and the metaphorical examples Holmes is showing early in his career are deep and sad.
Much like Clark W. Griswold in Las Vegas, Santonio doesn't even deserve a hot sandwich. Perhaps Sunday's display did earn him mention with Troy Edwards, Jamain Stephens and Scott Shields in the Worst High Steelers Draft Picks conversation, but I'm too numb to get into that, either.
As Broncos linebacker Al Wilson said to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Steelers are the best two-win team in the game -- assuming he was comparing them to teams who have played more than two or three games.
It's true. It really is.
This team dominates their opposition in all but about five or six plays a game. But those five or six plays are usually highlighted on Football Night in America -- right about the time Bob Costas looks to the Bus to prove to everyone his loyalties lie with objectivity, not with his former team.
"Tell us, Bus ... are the Steelers done?"
(With a look like he's about to rat out his friend to the Feds) "The Pittsburgh Steelers are a bad football team."
In Sunday's example of disaster, those six plays were, in no particular order, Santonio's fumble, Ben's first interception, Reed's missed field goal, Townsend and Company's missed tackles, Ben's third interception, and Ward's fumble.
If you think I'm picking hairs and using spurious logic, look at the stats: a 9 minute advantage in time of possession, 77-51 in plays, 500 yards to 336. Take out Walker's 72 yard touchdown run, and the Broncos rushed for 43 yards on 22 carries.
Yet, Pittsburgh lost. Again. Ward's fumble even managed to sink the dagger deeper in the hearts of the defending champions, as he lost the ball maybe -- MAYBE -- a foot from the goal line on what should have been successful CPR into the team. There was a chance to pull something off at the end, but just like this season, even that was denied by a turnover.
Roethlisberger has a career day, and did just enough to lose. The Short Field Steelers Defense shut down the Broncos, with the exception of Ike Taylor vs. Javon Walker, which was just enough to lose. Bill Cowher out-dueled rival contemporary Mike Shanahan, but his team did just enough to lose.
No excuses, but the 2006 Steelers are a shining example of how little things, a champion make.
It's the truth, and with that, the only comfort Steelers fans have now is watching a very good team with a chance to finish 5-1 in the division -- two games with Baltimore and Cleveland and one with Cincinnati remain.
Well, that, and the likelihood of becoming the best team ever to not make the playoffs. Whatever that means.