The Pittsburgh Steelers entered week 18 of the NFL regular season with a very slim chance of getting into the playoffs and one that was completely out of their control. If the Indianapolis Colts beat the abysmal Jacksonville Jaguars, the Steelers would have been eliminated from postseason contention, regardless of their result against the Baltimore Ravens.
However, stranger things have happened in the NFL and on Sunday the Jaguars came through with a massive 26-11 upset to eliminate the Colts from any chance of qualifying for the playoffs. The Steelers did their part by beating the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, but could still have been eliminated if the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders game ended in a tie. Fortunately for Steelers fans, the Las Vegas Raiders decided to kick a field goal in the final seconds of overtime to finish off the Chargers and put Pittsburgh into the playoffs.
The victory also means Ben Roethlisberger will play another game, as many had anticipated Sunday to be the final outing of his career. He is planning to retire at the end of the campaign but would love nothing more than to go out a winner.
“It shows something about this team that you can continue to fight and never give up,” Roethlisberger said following the victory, via Triblive.com.
“We knew we had to take care of business first and foremost,” he continued. “It took extra time, but we found a way to do it.”
Pittsburgh ended their campaign winning three of their final four games, including against the likes of the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns to get into the playoffs, something that has made head coach Mike Tomlin very proud.
“Dire circumstances,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “A lot of competition in the stadium. Distractions, potentially, outside the stadium. They were able to process all of that and make the necessary plays to secure victory. I’m appreciative of it.”
“We don’t take it for granted,” Tomlin continued as he spoke of his star players. “We know it’s unique, but we’ve been looking at it for some time. We expect it, but it’s appreciated — their efforts, their talents, their will, their competitive spirit, the things that make them who they are.”
It was clear the Steelers were a motivated side and one eager to ensure that Roethlisberger gets the send-off he deserves, after an illustrious career that saw him lead Pittsburgh to two Super Bowl triumphs.
“If this is his last year, we’re sending him to the playoffs, and this team deserves it,” said kicker Chris Boswell, who scored the winning field goal from 36 yards away in overtime to give the Steelers the victory over the Ravens. “We’ve been battling.”
The Steelers will now get set to travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday evening. The Chiefs have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl for the last two years and fans should be in for a fantastic game between the two sides. Kansas City did take down the Steelers 36-10 at Arrowhead Stadium on Boxing Day, but once the playoffs start no other games matter.