The scene was all too familiar to the Steeler players and fans alike. 1:59 left in the game with 87 yards to go, Ben Roethlisberger at the helm. Reminiscent of the 2008 Super Bowl where he led the Steelers on a last minute drive to win the game against the Arizona Cardinals. The fans had all of the confidence in the world in their big game quarterback. This is where he thrives, he may not put up the stats in the first three quarters, but Ben is at his best in the tough situations. On fourth and five, Ben and the Steelers came up short and the quest for seven came to a halt, as the Packers were able to defeat the Steelers 31-25 and win Super Bowl 45. We are so used to seeing the Steelers in the Super Bowl, but we aren’t used to seeing them on the losing side. For the first time since the 1995-1996 season, and 0nly the second time in franchise history, the Steelers walked away the losers and watched the confetti rain down on their opponents.
As in the 1995 lost to the Cowboys, the Steelers weren’t at their best in this game and the Packers did exactly what everyone thought they would do, they spread the Steelers out. Outside of Hines Ward, who else performed up to the standard that Coach Tomlin preaches? Trailing 21-3 before a late first half touchdown to Ward, the Steelers never gave up despite two interceptions from their franchise quarterback and a fumble from running back Rashard Mendenhall. The Packers made the most of the three turnovers by the Steelers, scoring 21 points off of the mishaps. Is Ben’s performance to blame for the loss? How about the number one defense in the league getting carved up by Aaron Rodgers? Where was Troy Polamalu at in the game? The reason that the Steelers lost this game is as easy as this: the Packers were the better team on Sunday night and they beat the Steelers, the Steelers didn’t beat themselves.
In what was a season filled with adversity where nobody gave them a chance, the Steelers wanted nothing more than to prove everyone wrong one last time and hoist that trophy in front of the record 111 million viewers. Unfortunately, the quest for a seventh Super Bowl Trophy will have to wait until another time. Sure it’s tough to swallow when you get that close to the prize and walk away empty handed. It’s a feeling that a lot of us aren’t use to. We don’t want to go back the feelings we had when we watched Neil O’Donnell throw more passes to Larry Brown of the Cowboys than his own players. The fact of the matter is, sometimes you lose but the season can still be a success. Instead of us pointing fingers after the loss and talk about who should be fired, who we want in the draft, or the key free agent acquisition that we want, let us relish in the amazing season the men in Black and Gold had.
Yes, the pain and anguish will last a few days and weeks, but over time, we will look back and just think to ourselves how unreal this season was. From Milledgeville to the injuries to the fines, every obstacle thrown the Steelers way, they were able to overcome them. We need to realize that teams would kill to be in the position that the Steelers are in each and every year. We don’t see it, but in reality, the people of Pittsburgh are spoiled with the most consistent franchise in sports. Each and every year they know they have a chance to win the Super Bowl. Heck, they have been to 8 games, winning 6 of them. Ask fans in Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville and Detroit how they feel each year? None of these teams have even made an appearance in the Super Bowl, let alone win it. The Steelers have been there 3 times in 6 years. Cherish each time they make it and don’t expect it, because in actuality, we don’t know when it will happen again.
With a schedule that includes the Browns and Bengals twice, as well as the NFC West next season, the Steelers will be in prime position to be one of the teams to beat in the AFC. Obviously, as Steelers fans know best, things can change in the blink of an eye in the offseason, but with veteran leadership and emerging young players, the Steelers aren’t going anywhere. Though the loss hurts now, just think, you could always be from Cleveland.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com