Why thank a team that didn’t make the playoffs, you might ask? The struggles and small triumphs this season gives fans like myself hope for the next season of play for my Pittsburgh Steelers.
By mid-season this year, the Steelers had 2 wins and 6 losses on their record. On the team’s Bye in week 9, I heard whispers of gloom and doom via predictions of an ending fictional 5-12 record or worse. The fact that the Steelers’ season ended with 9 wins and 8 losses can’t be overlooked, considering the first half of the season was dismal. The 7-2 run to end the season can be called impressive, given the performance in the weeks before the Bye. Towards the last games of the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers had rallied with more wins than losses. What wasn’t so great was the fact of needing help from other teams to advance into the NFL playoffs. I can only speak as a fan of the team to say it’s not a good feeling to find your team in that situation. So, in the final week (18) of regular play, my Steelers hosted our division rival Cleveland Browns. The task was to win the game and hope the game being played concurrently by the Jets and the Dolphins would end up in a Jets win. The Steelers were still “in the hunt” for a Wildcard playoff spot at the beginning of the game, where they hosted Cleveland at Pittsburgh’s Acrisure Stadium. It was great to see the Steelers win the game against the Browns. Sadly, it’s now history that the Jets lost to the Dolphins 6-11. The Dolphins’ win dashed any hopes for an advance to the post-season by Pittsburgh. This scenario may sound familiar to those paying attention because it’s happened in past seasons involving my Steelers’ team. But let me say that the fact that this Pittsburgh team rallied the way they did is something to mention. It’s too little and too late, but now it’s time to move on to the future.
In my opinion, what most will call a disappointing season (and it was for diehards like myself that feel the Steelers should always be in the playoffs), is actually an opportunity. The opportunity comes in looking forward to a better season in 2023-2024. Hope is a beautiful thing.
This Steelers team has lots of young talent and seasoned veteran players to help with the rebuild for the next season. The head coach’s lead remains consistent, in my opinion. The consistency is referenced by the cohesiveness of the team by the end of the season. I can’t fail to note how the offensive line came together nicely in those last weeks of the season. It was exciting to watch.
The coming weeks and months will tell the story of how the team will look going forward into next season. There are free agency opportunities, as well as restructuring that will be done. Win or lose, the Steelers shouldn’t be counted out until it’s time to count them out. So, thank you, Pittsburgh Steelers, for showing your drive and heart in playing this game.
R.H.W. Dorsey is a multi-genre writer and Steelers fan.