The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns 24-10 in Pittsburgh today and therefore ended the season at 8-8. A far cry from what many expected this season to be sure. Ben Roethlisberger rebounded from a tough end to the Bengals’ game by throwing for less than 200 yards, but tossed three touchdowns and most importantly, he ended the game healthy.
Read the timeline of any Steelers’ fans’ twitter account and you’ll see just how disappointed the fan base is that this game was the final one and meant nothing. We are not used to being an absent member of the NFL playoffs and if we are spoiled because of that then so be it. We demand a better product and Mike Tomlin and company know it.
The game of football is a fine line between winning and losing and the Steelers’ season was a perfect example of that. So many losses by just three points and others where the game was in the balance late. There will be much to discuss this off-season but I’m still reserved the right to think about the ‘what-ifs’ of 2012 aren’t I?
What if… The defense doesn’t give up a 19-14 fourth quarter lead in Denver?
What If… Ben doesn’t throw a pick-six and gets us down the field to victory?
What if… Mike Tomlin doesn’t trot out Shaun Suisham for a long field goal in Tennessee?
What If… Antonio Brown doesn’t fumble in Oakland?
What If… Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t get hurt against Kansas City?
What If… The Steelers’ Special Teams could have prevented a punt return TD against the Ravens?
What If… The Steelers actually had a Special Teams’ coach?
What If… The Steelers hadn’t turned the ball over EIGHT times in Cleveland?
What If… The Steelers had shown up against the Chargers?
What If… Antonio Brown doesn’t fumble against the Cowboys?
What If… Ben doesn’t throw two bad passes to end games against Dallas and Cincinnati?
What If… Mike Tomlin remembered how to properly manage a game?
What If… The Steelers had relied on one or two backs instead of five.
What If… Todd Haley realized you could call plays in a progression other than run, run, pass?
What If… Troy Polamalu had missed maybe five games instead of nine?
What If… LaMarr Woodley had actually put pressure on the quarterback?
What If… Steve McLendon had played more?
What If… Mike Wallace didn’t pout and went after balls aggressively?
What If… The offensive line was actually healthy for a span greater than 1 week?
What If… Bruce Arians had been coaching the offense?
The NFL has always been known as a game of inches and this year the Steelers fell on the wrong side of that ledger. There is the potential for tremendous change both in the players on the field and the coaches who coach them but this has never been a team of over-reaction and instability.
For the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers, the what-ifs are a seemingly never-ending list and it won’t end just because the season is over for them.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.