Looking back with true 2020 hindsight, it’s a wonder the Steelers had any football season at all.
Training camp at Saint Vincent college – Cancelled.
Home games at Heinz Field – Empty seats.
Covid-19 had claimed over 370,000 lives in the U.S. by the time the clock ran out on the Steelers season last night. The Steelers were on a roll with a perfect 11-0 record, until the virus knocked the wheels off.
Their arch rival, the Baltimore Ravens, had Covid outbreaks that derailed the Steelers schedule twice, along with their win streak. The Steelers were forced to play 3 games in a brief 12-day span. Two games were played within 5 days of each other.
The Steelers’ running game evaporated as opposing teams began to stymy their short passing game. Player quarantines added insult to season-ending injuries. Their 2-point loss to the Browns in Week 17, when several Steeler veterans were rested, was a preamble to their rusty start a week later at home.
Their well-rested All-Pro center rocketed the first snap of the game far over the head of their 6’ 5” tall All-Pro quarterback, resulting in the Browns’ first touchdown. The Steelers continued to unravel, as they set a new NFL record for most points scored against a home team (28) in the 1st quarter of a playoff game. The Browns’ 35 points in the first half set an NFL record for a road playoff game.
The Browns had been the Steelers’ whippin’ boys for years, decades in fact, but on this cold Sunday night in Pittsburgh, a huge bowl full of canine karma bit ‘em in the ass. The Browns’ had avenged the 38-7 October pounding by the Steelers — when it really counted.
There’s always next season, as the saying goes, but fans are wondering if it will be without 17-year veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, since his long passing game faded as the season wore on, and banged-up knees limited his mobility. In spite of everything, Big Ben threw for 501-yards, with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
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