Steelers finish season strong but miss out on playoffs

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The Steelers made a valiant run down the stretch to reach .500 and avoid their first losing season since 2003 but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough to slip into the 2013 playoffs.

Leading into last week, the Steelers needed eight things to happen in order for them to make the miraculous appearance in the postseason. As of the 4:30 games on Sunday afternoon; the first seven of those things went the right way.

All that needed to happen now was a win by the Chiefs over the Chargers. The Chiefs however had elected to sit the bulk of their starters; so the odds of a Kansas City victory appeared slim. Yet, the Chiefs put up a true fight and took a 24-14 second half lead. They allowed the Chargers to tie the game at 24 but managed to drive the ball down the field with eight seconds left and all they needed was Ryan Succop to hit a 41 yard field goal, which would send the black and gold on to next week.

The rest is history, Succop missed the kick and the Chiefs lost in overtime keeping the Steelers out.

Many blame Succop for the Steelers misfortune but the Steelers should only blame themselves.  Succop wasn’t part of the team that started 0-4. He wasn’t the guy who stepped out of bounds against the Dolphins on a game winning miracle touchdown (Antonio  Brown), he wasn’t the guy who dropped a game tying two point conversion against the Ravens on Thanksgiving night (Emmanuel Sanders) and he wasn’t part of a defense who was torched on an almost weekly basis.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) is tackled after catching a pass by Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Will Allen (20) during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. The Steelers won 20-7. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) is tackled after catching a pass by Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Will Allen (20) during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. The Steelers won 20-7. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The team finished 8-8, Succop wasn’t part of that.  8-8 is not good, period. The players in that locker room and the coaches in that office will tell you that.

Had the Steelers taken care of their own business, they wouldn’t have to rely on Succop in the first place.

The fact the Steelers won their last three games should not fool anyone into thinking they were a true playoff team.  The reality of it is; 8-8 being a playoff contender is an indictment on the AFC as a conference and not a barometer for how good the Steelers were.

In the NFC a ten win Cardinals team missed out on the same seed the Steelers were playing for.

It was great to see the Steelers win their final three games and show they had a sense of pride and a motivation to succeed but they didn’t have what it took this year.

It is now necessary for the front office to not be fooled into thinking this team was actually a championship team just a Succop miss away from making a run. If they do that, the black and gold will be in this position again next season.

While it’s never easy, its’ time for this team to acknowledge it’s time to move on from some of the most revered Steelers in franchise history and rebuild this roster for another run of success.

The bulk of these guys are past their prime and will always be remembered for what they accomplished here. They just are no longer a part of what will happen here and the sooner the front office accepts that and moves on, the sooner the Steelers can get back to a point in time where they aren’t relying on a kick being made by a player on another team in a game they aren’t playing in.

Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at mike@steelnationassociation.com.

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