Today was a rough day for Pittsburgh Steelers football fans. The Steelers have struggled all season, losing their first four games, before recovering and winning 6 of their final 8 to finish the season with a .500 record, at 8-8. They were never really in the hunt for the playoffs, and it was hard to stay excited about them during the season. I tend to get a little too involved in the team's wins and losses. I'm what you would call a die-hard fan. When the Steelers win, it can make my weekend. When the lose, it puts me in a funk. I take it all much too seriously.
So the Steelers started to get their season on track and they were winning games. Coming into the last two games, the Steelers were still longshots to make the playoffs. There were, like, 18 things that had to happen with other teams to keep them in the hunt. Wouldn't you know it, but everything that had to happen began to happen, and the stars aligned.
Going into today's games, the Steelers still needed a lot of help. They needed to win their game versus their long-time rivals, the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers have played well against the Browns, especially when playing at home, so it was looking good for that game. The Steelers also needed the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, and San Diego Chargers to lose, which would make them all tied at 8-8, and the Steelers would get into the playoffs with the tie-breaker. It was still a longshot. Miami was playing a home game against the New York Jets. It they won, they were in. But the Jets played well and took the game, eliminating Miami. The Ravens were playing at the division rival Cincinnati Bengals, and with the way the Ravens had been playing recently, this would be a tough game for them. And, sure enough, the Bengals, after letting it stay close early, ran away with it.
It all came down to the San Diego Chargers versus the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Chargers won, they were in the playoffs. If they the Chiefs won, the Steelers would be in. The Chargers were at home, where they had played well. The Chiefs had already qualified for the playoffs, and Coach Andy Reid elected to rest a majority of his starters, including their quarterback and running back. They seemed to be resigned to the fact that the game didn't mean anything to them, win or lose. It didn't look good for the Steelers. But the game still had to be played, and it was a nail-biter. The Chargers fell behind unexpectedly and were losing 24-14 in the 4th quarter. They seemed to get some momentum, though, and were able to tie it with just a few minutes left. The Chiefs moved the ball up the field, and were inside the 20 yard line with only a few seconds left in the game. A field goal would win it, and allow the Steelers to make it into the playoffs. The Chiefs kicker, Ryan Succop, was a fairly decent kicker, too, so this would be an easy kick. But it wasn't meant to be. The kick went up and missed by mere inches. The game went into overtime, where the Chargers went right down the field and kicked a field goal, then stopped the Chiefs from scoring to win the game and go to the playoffs! The Steelers were eliminated.
It was a heartbreaking end to the season. I had long ago lost any hope of the Steelers making the playoffs, but the recent success had rejuvenated my interest. Given how everything had aligned for them over the last few weeks, I really thought they might make it. But it didn't happen.
Now it's college basketball season, and I have to change my focus from the Steelers to my Maryland Terrapins. The men's team still looks to be struggling, but the women's team is awesome once again, and there are high hopes for big success this season. Hopefully it will be better than the Steelers.
I really hate how seriously I take my sports teams, and their successes and failures are taken to heart. They literally affect my mood and will create a stress I do not need in my life, given the fact that I'm already stressed from work and other life events. Sports are meant to be a fun and enjoyable diversion. But I can't help it. I just take it too seriously. And I wouldn't change a thing.
Have a great evening, everyone!