Colin Dunlap: Steelers Aren’t In The Playoffs Because Of The Steelers
Go ahead and blame Ryan Succop if it makes you feel better.
Fire away at Andy Reid, too — if that’s something that douses your thirst for culpability.
Here’s the truth — and you probably know it, you just don’t want to admit it — the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t in the NFL Playoffs this season because of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And that’s where the story solidly ends.
Finished, done, kaput.
It isn’t about some kicker from the Chiefs missing a 41-yard field goal at the very end of regulation in a game against the Chargers on the final day of the regular season.
It’s even less about a mustachioed coach in his first season in Kansas City resting 19 of his 22 starters (including quarterback Alex Smith and running back Jamaal Charles) because his club clinched a playoff spot two weeks ago and nothing was to be gained — or lost — by Sunday’s game.
No, the Steelers can look squarely into a mirror and that 8-8 record for the second consecutive season as to why their season is complete before the calendar spins into 2014.
The true reasons there will be no playoffs for this band of black and gold is oh-so-simple to see, even if almost everything went right in the final two weeks for the Steelers to backdoor their way into the postseason.
Take a look at starting the season 0-4 with losses to Tennessee, Cincinnati, Chicago and Minnesota — that’s why these Steelers are done. Furthermore, the Titans and Bears losses came at home and those first four teams combined finished the season 31-32-1. Of the first four losses, Cincinnati was the lone team that defeated the Steelers that made the playoffs.
Still think all this is all about what some kicker or coach from Kansas City did or didn’t do, in a game your team wasn’t playing in, on Dec. 29? If you do, you are a long way off.
Same thought process goes for some of the quarterbacks who defeated the Steelers during this 2013 regular season.
The Steelers lost to Terrelle Pryor.
And Jake Locker.
And Ryan Tannehill.
And Matt Cassel.
Who can forget the Raiders’ Pryor, who grew up in Jeannette, propelling his team to a 21-18 victory against the Steelers this season after the Steelers had fought back from that terrible start to move to 2-4. It was Pryor who, on the first play from scrimmage against the Steelers, took a shotgun snap, made a cut and cruised in for a 93-yard touchdown.
It was also Pryor who won just two other starts in 2013.
Or how about Locker, the Titans’ signalcaller who beat the Steelers in that opener with an abysmal quarterback rating of 74.0, going 11-of-20 for 125 yards and no touchdowns?
How about Matt Cassel of the Vikings? The Steelers lost to this guy making his first start of the season in London as he burned them up for 248 yards and two scores.
Yes, the same Matt Cassel who played in 18 games — combined — in Kansas City the past two seasons.
There was also Tannehill, the second-year quarterback who charged his team up here from South Florida and put 34 points on the Steelers in the freezing cold and driving snow on Dec. 8. This is the same Tannehill who lost four consecutive games through the heart of the season and had two three-interception and two two-interceptions games this year. His average completed pass in a game this season was never more than 9.38 yards.
Indeed, Pryor and Locker and Cassel and Tannehill — all bested the Steelers.
So feel good about yourself if you must. Go ahead and point the finger at some lowly kicker from the Chiefs or some coach who did what he felt was best for his team as it pushes into the playoffs.
Know what the logical and commonsensical conclusion is, however?
Realizing none of what happened between the Chiefs and Chargers really mattered.
What mattered — and really all that mattered — for the Steelers in this 2013 season is what they failed to do.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.