Fans are acting like the Steelers playoff drought began yesterday
Steelers fans are on here acting like the team’s playoff drought just began yesterday.
Excuse me for making my first sentence at FFSN seem like a Tweet. I guess it’s because I spend a lot of time on Twitter watching Steelers fans argue about things.
One of those things is the team’s lack of playoff success since January of 2017 and a victory over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Divisional Round Weekend. It was Pittsburgh’s ninth-straight victory, dating back to November of the 2016 regular season, and there was optimism for an upset win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game.
A nine-game winning streak will generally foster that kind of hope, and even the belief that the Steelers’ defense could finally shut down Tom Brady on his home turf.
It didn’t happen. To quote my uncle shortly after a 36-17 trouncing, the Steelers were “bullied.”
Oh well, that’s Tom Brady for you. That’s Gillette Stadium for you. That’s the Steelers vs. Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium for you.
But at least the Steelers had momentum on their side heading into 2017.
Sadly, the momentum that led to a 13-3 regular-season mark couldn’t prevent a postseason date with the Jaguars, the same Jaguars team that trounced Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on October 8. You know what they say, matchups make the match, and Jacksonville again proved to be a poor one for the Steelers and left Heinz Field with a not-as-close-as-it-seemed 45-42 victory in the divisional round.
Pittsburgh collapsed at the tail-end of 2018 and missed the postseason for the first time in five years.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow fell apart early in the 2019 campaign, which had a lot to do with keeping Pittsburgh out of the playoffs for a second-straight season.
There was 2020 and that 11-0 start, followed by a 2-5 collapse–including a not-so-close 48-37 home loss to the Browns on Wildcard Weekend.
2021 saw the return of Roethlisberger, whose noodle arm did all it could to drag the Steelers into the playoffs as the AFC’s seventh seed. Pittsburgh then got shellacked by the Chiefs on Wildcard Weekend.
Everyone is probably aware of what happened in 2022.
I can guess what you’re probably thinking, “We already know all of this. Why the history lesson?”
For one thing, I’m not sure how many words I need to write in order to create a legit article on FFSN. Secondly, I wanted to give you an idea of just how long it’s been since the Steelers last won a playoff game, as well as everything that’s transpired since then (well, almost everything–Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, etc.)
A third reason? Thanks for asking. That whole 2022 thing, and Pittsburgh missing the playoffs, which meant the organization increased its streak without a postseason win to six years (and counting)? That was a long damn time ago.
The Steelers were officially eliminated from the playoffs on January 8, 2023. I was extremely depressed while leaving Acrisure Stadium following a 28-14 Week 18 win over the Browns that, sure, clinched another non-losing season for head coach Mike Tomlin, but also left me without hope. Why? Because the Dolphins knocked off the Jets to clinch the seventh and final playoff seed in the AFC.
“Damn it, this sucks!” my fellow fans may have said while herding their way out of Acrisure Stadium and into the streets of Pittsburgh where they no doubt took to their social media accounts to complain about the lack of playoff success that had reached six years (and counting).
That was totally understandable in January. It may have even been acceptable in February. Heck, April would have been fine.
But why are you still talking about it in July? Why are you still debating it on Twitter? The Steelers report to training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. in less than two weeks. Isn’t this the time of year when fans should be beating their chests over the possibilities of an undefeated regular season followed by an undefeated postseason followed by a win in the Super Bowl?
“It’s been six years, though!”
Six and a half, actually, but who cares about that now?
Ever commit an egregious act that a significant other said they would forgive you for but hasn’t gotten around to doing so after many months?
That’s how Steelers fans are when they complain about the previous season right before the start of the next season.
“We have high expectations!”
Yeah, we heard you, many, many, many times. It’s the whole standard is the something or another.
“You’re just going to accept this?”
I’m a fan. It’s kind of like being five years old. I pretty much have to accept everything a sports franchise gives me. Yes, I could stop going to games, but I don’t go to many, anyway. I could stop watching the Steelers on television, but I would only be hurting myself. Besides, the ratings are always so good, it would be like throwing a deck chair off of the Queen Mary in terms of anyone noticing.
Speaking of which, you might say that you’ll give up your season tickets just to show the Steelers you mean business (by taking away yours), but it’s not going to hurt the streak of sell-outs that started the year I was born–1972. You’ll just have to go to the back of the line and might not find the end of it until the year 2072.
What I’m saying is, you should be excited! The Steelers are about to start training camp!
The regular season is less than two months away!
This is a time to be happy, not sad. This a time to talk about the possibilities of the future, not the realities of the past.
This is a time to jump out of your seat, not talk about the temperature of the one Tomlin currently occupies.
I’m writing at a new Steelers site, and I’m excited about a new Steelers season.
You should be, too, (at least the second thing).
More from Steel Curtain Networkread more
You may also be interested inread more
Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast
3 players mentioned by Mike Tomlin following Tuesday’s training camp practice