I wrote two weeks ago that the Steelers would not make the playoffs, thinking they would be eliminated before they faced the Packers at Lambeau Field in week 16.
With three straight wins to finish the year and everything going Pittsburgh's way, it seemed like me and many others would be eating our words with a side of crow today when Kansas City seemed to have a victory twice that would have sent the Steelers to the playoffs to cap off an incredible final two weeks of football where the stars almost aligned perfectly for them.
A missed field goal and a questionable call in San Diego sealed the fate of the 2013 Steelers. They were a team gradually getting better and also got a lot of help. But when you depend on too many teams to win or lose, it hurts you in the end most of the time.
For a team that played their way to 2-6 the first half of the year, a 6-2 finish to put them back where they were last season at 8-8, it will be a lot of "almost" and "what ifs" coming from fans and the organization.
"What if they had beaten Tenneseee, Minnesota and Oakland in the first half of the season when they played so poorly?"
"What if Antonio Brown's left foot didn't go out of bounds at the Miami 13 yard line on the almost miracle play at Heinz Field?"
"What if Sanders caught the two-point conversion pass against Baltimore on Thnksgiving?"
"The Chiefs almost got the Steelers into the playoffs."
Despite their best effort, the Steelers created their own mess and did their best to clean it up in the second half of the season with some aid. The mess was just a little too much to salvage.
A season in which everyone would've called over after week 9 against New England, the Steelers kept people watching into week 17. It was a crazy final Sunday in the regular season, and everyone watched with intrigue and curiosity to see if the impossible was possible.
Now they enter an offseason with many personnel questions and the 15th pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Fans should hope the Steelers resolve to not have as many "what ifs" and "almost" moments in the new year.