After falling to the division rival Cincinnati Bengals last week at Heinz Field, the Pittsburgh Steelers were officially knocked out of playoff contention in the AFC. The loss was fifth in the last six games and most of the team believes they simply let a playoff berth slip through their fingers over the course of the last month or so.
There’s no question that the Steelers controlled their own fate over the last few games with a playoff berth a realistic possibility. The win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13 was thought to be the beginning of a drastic turn around for this veteran team, but it was ultimately the complete opposite with Pittsburgh failing to record a single win since getting the best of the Ravens on their home field.
Two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger has come out publicly saying that he takes the blame for the Steelers’ late-season collapse with the veteran unable to get back to form after suffering rib and shoulder injuries in the overtime win over the Kanas City Chiefs in Week 10.
Another big-name veteran was also outspoken about the disappointing end to the season with superstar safety Troy Polamalu hopeful that missing the playoffs this time around will be a humbling experience for the Steelers via Alan Robinson of Triblive.com:
“I hope this is a humbling process for a lot of guys here,” Polamalu said Thursday, referring to the Steelers‘ 7-8 record. “Hopefully it will make us a better team in the future.”
Pittsburgh is no longer a young team on the rise in the NFL with a lot of team’s best players heading into the downside of their careers.
Polamalu will turn 32 in April while Roethlisberger will reach the ripe old age of 31 in March. Although there are a few up-and-coming youngsters on the squad with wide receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown only 26-years old, the current squad isn’t getting any younger and time keeping ticking for the Steelers in terms of being able to compete with the best of the best in the AFC.