Why The Steelers Should Be Glad They Aren’t In The Playoffs

By Michael K. Reynolds

This year the Pittsburgh Steelers missed out on their miracle of making the NFL playoffs by the slimmest of margins.

In the end it was a barely missed field goal by Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop that destroyed the 2013 dreams of many a Black and Gold fan.

But now it’s over, the Steelers and their fans should be glad they didn’t make it to the postseason. Because it means the NFL hasn’t ruined the playoffs…yet.

There has been much talk about lowering the competitive bar of the league and allowing more teams to qualify for postseason play. Why? Those in favor say it will allow the torch of hope to burn longer for the fans of sub-par teams. The capitalist-leaning proponents say it will fill stadiums more to capacity and award advertisers with more bang for their buck.

What do the purists say? The true lovers of the sport?

Don’t do it. Take your money-grubbing hands off of that button and back away. You’ve got the best viewing sport in America. Don’t blow it NFL.

The Steelers were a team that started 0-4 and remained in playoff contention even when they had a record of 5-8. The fact they even had a chance to make it borders on ridiculous.

Take it from one of this year’s losers. We didn’t make the playoffs because we didn’t deserve the honor.

And next year, when we’re back in the post-season and working to add some more shine to the Rooney’s trophy cabinet, we want it all to mean something.

The tougher it is to make the post-season, the greater the thrill of the regular season. It’s painful to be left out. But, the playoffs are for winners. A showcase of the league’s elite.

Let’s keep it that way.

About the Author

Michael K. Reynolds
Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland series. MichaelKReynolds.com


  • rdmsr

    I agree they shouldn’t be in the playoffs. Steelers fans should use this weekends games to gauge the progress of the Steelers. I think we’ll see the Steelers defense just doesn’t match up to the final 8 teams, speed and pressure, should be the theme, not a difficult defense that 2-3 years to learn.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I think of myself as a die hard and am open to adding teams to the playoffs. There are many arguments that make it a very good case for the addition. However, Michael makes a very good point. In some ways I would rather have a solid team with a legitimate chance of winning the super bowl rather than a having a team that’s just “glad to be there” hoping to wins one game or maybe upsetting a legitimate contender. In the end, the possibility of an extra steeler game in January is extremely enticing… even if its just for the sake of watching one more game. If you were to ask me what way they will go, the answer is easy. Follow the dollar signs, the league is driven primarily by greed. Everything else is secondary. So, there you go.. Sounds like we will have more playoff teams. Sorry, Michael the league does not care about much about the purists.

  • Jollyrob68

    I think if they got in and got past Denver this weekend the’d be Super Bowl champs. This weekend in Denver would of been the killer.

  • Jollyrob68

    I hope they have an excellent draft and sign some free agents. Dexter McCluster,Mt Cody & Our own people like Dwyer,Cotchery,Hood,Woods & Top Priority is Worilds. I hope Woodley Heals up and wont be upset if he’s a draft day trade.

  • Jason

    Wow. Even though we improved over the last 8 games I saw nothing in this team to make me believe they could have gone into Foxboro and beat NE or beaten Seattle,SF,NO or Car in the Super Bowl. Not be be negative but our only impressive win over the last 8 was at home vs Cincy. We beat GB without Rogers and Det proved to be a fraud once again, Buff, and Clev twice. I agree they wouldn’t have beaten Den but there’s a long list of other teams still alive they’d have likely lost to.

  • Jason

    I don’t see teams lining up to trade for an injury prone, chronic underachiever but I hope you’re right. I think it’s much more likely we simply release him but my worst fear is keeping him and losing Worilds and having to watch big Lammar get swallowed up by pedestrian RT’s and TE’s all year and then pulling a hammy or hurting an ankle and seeing Carter get playing time and that’s never a good thing.

  • Tom Savastano

    January is a horrible month if the Steelers are not playing but the Defense would have let us Steeler fans down in the playoffs if they made it.

  • Brian Miller

    well said, and I agree.

  • cencalsteeler

    Wow! I am one who feel the Steelers deserved to be in the playoffs, and rightfully so. Sure, they started out 0-4. But, there is ebb and flow throughout every team during a season. The Steelers were 6-2 in their last 8 games and were making a nice run. I do agree, that great teams put an exclamation point on their season and don’t need to rely on other teams losing to get you into the playoffs. But, I admit the Steelers were not that type of team this year. They needed help from others to get in and the cards actually fell into their favor. The admitted muffed calls by the officials, not once, but twice eliminated them from contention and our chance to continue to ride this season. I, for one, believe. I believe on any given Sunday, a team that might not look so good on paper, can beat any team put in front of them. A perfect example is the ride we enjoyed while Cowher took his visiting team through the playoffs and ended up champions. The Giants did it as well on their latest SuperBowl run. And, many can argue that the Ravens weren’t the best team in football last year, although they hoisted the Lombardi in the end.
    Though this years squad was not a power house team that we all hoped to see this season, I feel they have or had more of a right to belong in the playoffs than the Chargers. What could have been, we’ll never know, but on any given Sunday…..

  • Jason

    While I do admire your positive outlook I don’t think any team that loses to Tenn,Oak,Minn. and needs 3 teams to lose in week 17 “deserves” to get into the playoffs even though with prpoer officiating they would have gotten in. And you are correct anything is possible but I do feel like the teams you mention making improbable runs were better than this Steeler team. Simply too many big plays given up by the D and if we could have snuck by Cincy Manning would likely have torched us big time. I think they were a year away but thankfully that year is just 9 long grueling months away.

  • Bill Molinaro

    I am glad the Steelers did not make the playoffs; they simply were not a very good team. I know there are a lot of inferior teams in the playoffs because of the
    restrictions on practices and free agency; but I believe all the teams in the
    playoffs are better than the Steelers. I guess you could make an argument about
    the Chargers but in my view, they were one of the best teams down the stretch.
    And we get a better draft pick! As far as letting more teams in the playoffs,
    the idea stinks. One of the great things about the NFL is that every game
    counts; it’s one of the things that separate the NFL from other sports! The
    more teams you let in the playoffs, the less each game counts. The NFL is close
    to the saturation point right now; look at the teams that had great difficulty
    filling the stands this past weekend. More games mean more injuries and more
    injuries mean more mediocre games. Please owners, don’t let the dollar signs
    dancing in your heads ruin this great game for us!

  • Robert Alaniz

    To that point, I agree with Cencal. All those teams you mentioned did lose though and the unthinkable would have happened except for bone headed missed calls at the end.

    It would have been a great story and no one can tell me it wouldn’t have been a great game in Cincy.

  • Brian Tollini

    Agreed, pure and simple.

  • Jason

    I believe we would have beaten Cincy and then been buried by the Broncos and be picking in the mid twenties instead of 15. Although knocking the Bengals out of the playoffs would have been worth losing 10 spots in the draft. It’s all irrelevant because we lost a bunch of games we could/should have won.

  • Jeff

    I don’t want any more teams to be added to the playoffs, but I don’t agree that the Steelers didn’t deserve to make it based on the fact that they started 0-4 and were 5-8 at one time. Looking at the big picture, a strong finish putting them at 8-8 would have been playoff worthy barring the KC-SD controversial finish. Plus, it’s all relative to how other teams finish too. There were a lot of teams right on the bubble due to a weaker AFC. Yeah, they finished 8-8, but they play all 16 games for a reason. Anything can happen. Either way, I’m excited for the 8-4 finish in the last 12 games. Hopefully playoff bound in 2014!

  • Callentown

    ABsolutely MKR. Nice piece and you’re right on the money here.

  • Callentown

    Nah, .500 teams don’t belong in the playoff. Especially when there were other teams with 10 wins who did not make it.


  • Jeff

    8-8 teams make the playoffs. It’s happened before and it will happen again. That’s not my opinion, that’s just a fact. Like I said, It’s all relative to how the other teams in the conference do. In today’s NFL, parity is plentiful, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it more often.

    Also, There were no 10 win teams in the AFC who did not make the playoffs this year. Check your stats there 🙂

  • Callentown

    Yeah yeah.. I wasn’t suggesting it has not happened.

    I’ve watched NFL and been a Steelers fan for 40 years.

    That the 10-win team was in the NFC isn’t the point. No stat check needed Jeff.

    THIS is why the NFL is currently looking at changing WHICH teams make the playoffs. Not what the article is about, but there is a movement among owners after this season to look at making sure teams with the best records make it instead of the team in a weak division that does instead.

  • lefnor

    14 playoff spot means only one plus playoff game per conference. The #2 seed vs #7 seed. This year it would have been Steelers @ Patriots and Arizona @ Carolina. These would have been great games and I wouldn’t call this year’s Steelers or Cardinals a looser team.

  • 2winz

    Really? all these people people saying Steelers didn’t belong? How many teams that start off 0-4 continue to fight and darn nearly make the playoffs? Most teams would fall apart. Most coaches would lose the locker room. The players kept playing and worked hard and even though they needed a lot of help, had they made it.. I don’t believe all these people that say they would not have gone anywhere. Steelers were getting hot at just the right time, and they were making a good run. When Big Ben is healthy in the playoffs.. they have as good a chance as any team!

  • Callentown

    Gotta disagree with you 2winz.

    Not about Ben and how the offense was playing. But the playoffs are about defense. And this team did not have the requisite defense to compete.

    See Dolphins game at the end of the season as evidence where they could not hold a lead at home against a team that would get blown out the next two weeks again Buffalo and NYJ.

    NYG beat NE Cheatriots. Baltimore last year beat Denver’s vaunted offense with defense as well. It’ll happen again this year as we see all NFC teams have top defenses.

    Nah, woulda been nice, but short if they got in thru the back door.


  • mlc43

    What exactly is your point, Callentown? You’ve watched the NFL and been a Steelers fan for 40 years so you’ve undoubtedly seen 8-8 teams in the playoffs. Did it diminish any of the Steelers Lombardi’s? If KC had won and there had been another 10 win team in the AFC, guess, what, the Steelers still wouldn’t have made the playoffs. It’s plain stupid to say that they Steelers should be happy they didn’t make the playoffs.
    If, IF, the NFL decides to change the playoff format, then fine. Then things would be different. Under these rules, if KC had made that FG, then the Steelers more than deserved to be in the playoffs.

  • mlc43

    Are you SERIOUS, Callentown? Baltimore beat Denvers vaunted offense with defense. I thought they beat them with a lucky bomb. Also, 38-35 isn’t exactly a defensive struggle. Where was the defense? The SB score that year was 34-31. Again, not exactly a defensive struggle.
    I’m not disagreeing with you that our D was crappy this year. Also, the whole defense wins Championship thing has been over played; especially in this modern football game.

  • Callentown

    Then how do you explain Seattle, S.F., Carolina and the Saints (with improved defense over last year)?

    Yes I’m serious. I’ve been watching football enough to know defense wins playoff games.

    In those games, the offenses that were previously unstoppable got stopped again and again. High score, sure, but the winning teams had a strong defense in all cases.

    Same goes with the Trent Dilfer led Ravens, the Jim McMahon led Bears and many many others – including each and every one of the six rings the Steelers have won.

    We don’t even have to argue about it. Just watch the playoffs today and tomorrow.

  • mlc43

    If you want to look at overall ranking then…maybe you should. You might be surprised in what you find.

  • toonasteel

    fluff and filler post

  • Callentown

    Sure it is. Defense and running the ball still win.

    Again, Seattle, S.F. and Carolina all use that formula very well and are the favorites to win.

    N.E. for all of their offense, has used the Parcells formula of shutting down the high percentage plays on defense and forces the opposing offense to take shots where they don’t want to. Effective defense.

    And if Denver has ANY DB’s that can cover the bomb last year, they win as well.

    Everyone’s in love with the pass. But the teams that could run and play D are the ones there at the end.

  • mlc43

    Baltimore 17th, NYG 27th (played the pats ranked 31st), GB was
    5th(here’s a defense), NO 25th (played the Colts at 18th), Steelers 1st
    (defense), NYG 7th (defense), Colts 21st.
    So, out of the past 7 SBs
    over half of them have been won by teams that don’t have all that great
    or really crappy defenses. Plus you have some playing teams that weren’t
    even good. Defense doesn’t mean Championship. Sorry.

  • steeltown

    Well stated

  • Callentown

    Year-ending stats are not the end-all in how good a defense is. We both know that.

    With the Giants, the story of the game was their front 4 on D and teams moved to emulate that in the next seasons.

    Same with Baltimore who caused Manning to look very human, throwing INT’s and not being able to bring them back.

    Look, there is no rule that will always be the case without exception. And you and I can agree to disagree and still root for our Steelers.

    But . . . ask yourself this. Why is Seattle a big favorite over a Saints team with a 5000-yd passer and the most prolific pass-catching TE in history?? How was Seattle able to beat them so badly in the first match-up?

    The answer is Seattle’s defense. Their offense is ranked 17th.

    Peace brotha.. going to watch football now that the DVR has me ready to watch thru without commercials.

  • mlc43

    Last 10 SB winners have given up an avg of 20 pts. Yes, every game has it’s own set of rules and a team like Seattle can, and may, win the SB. It doesn’t change the fact that defense has been trending down and offense up. That HAS been the goal of our current commish, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. You can state this and that, but you can’t refute facts.

  • John A Stewart

    When my Steeler’s lost to Miami at home in Steeler weather we didn’t belong in the NFL.

  • David Edward

    I like the playoff format as it is now, except for one change that I’d make. Division winners would need to have a winning record to get into the playoffs, unless there are no other wildcard teams with winning records. Wouldn’t have effected this year, but I wouldn’t want to see a 7-9 or 8-8 division champ host a playoff game as a 4 seed while a 10-6 team sits home…and thst scenario has happened.

  • CrazyTerry

    having a selective playoffs didn’t prevent the Steelers from getting into the playoffs. Refs bungling the final SD game REPEATEDLY on the final 3 decisive drives of a game that was so clost that it went to OT was what got an inferior team into the playoffs. Still, if Steelers played just one more good game against Miami, the ref issue would be a moot point. And if there was a 7th seed, guess what, Cinci rests its players and the Ravens game becomes a competitive farce. So for every game that you made more interesting from a playoff perspective, you you could possibly have another game where the higher seed just take it easy.

    So I blame the Steelers themselves for not making the playoffs, not a restrictive playoff system. I would rather see the Steelers sit out this year than have a farce of a playoff system.

    Not to mention, there is a less do or die attitude among top teams during the season because getting a playoff spot became a lot easier. That hurts the league in the long term. Also NFL is not a best of 5 playoffs. So you need to make sure that only a deserving underdog gets a chance to upset a good team, not your frreaking 7th team. And how do you determine if you are excluding playoff caliber teams? You can’t go by one year. Look at a 10 year span and see how deserving the 7th seed has been. Not very in at least half the years. Not to mention you reduced the intensity of a lot of game involving teams that are near locks to make playoffs by mid year.

  • Don

    Right. The Pats O has a clear mismatch versus the Steelers D.

  • Bob

    As many chances as these guys get in their short careers, I’m betting you couldn’t find anyone involved with the team that thinks it would not have been best if they made the playoffs. It’s easy for us fans that have a lifetime of watching. Those players could be done this year, let alone next.

  • sean mcmartin

    The System is fine..If suckup hits the field goal. The Steelers would have been in..That’s how it is. No whining. you make it or don’t
    .playoffs go through your division.

  • AzheDraven

    I still believe Steelers should be playing Denver tomorrow. Remember that Clark cant play in Denver, so Sharknado would be starting, and, just imagine, he has a very nice breakout game, proving his worth (He could actually suck too, lol). Maybe, just maybe, that could be a breakout game for the defense, Cortez, Ike and Gay having a very good game, Worilds and Jarvis rushing Manning to force picks, Keisel playing to get a Bettis retirement party,
    Steelers have playmakers on defense, see Troy, Timmons, and their young guys are starting to shine, Cam, Jarvis, McLendon, Cortez.
    Or just remember Denver’s D sucks ass, so maybe it could be a offense game, and with players like Brown, Bell and Ben, maybe they could outscore Denver and head to NE to have a nasty rematch.
    But whatever, season is over and I already want the 2014 season to start, and I really think 2014 is going to be a very good year.

  • Derrik

    Love the site, amazing stuff all the time but you can’t say they wouldn’t have had a fighters chance in the playoffs. Looking at the teams left, no one is unbeatable, I look & see mediocre teams with plenty of flaws. Not saying we’re amazing but I don’t see any team in the playoffs now that we wouldn’t have had a chance against. It’s in the past but I would have loved to see how we would have done with the way our O was rolling late, would have been a tough out for sure. Just glad Jump Ball Joe & the red headed geek are out. All we need now is Tommy Tuck rule to be bounced.

  • DrakePirate

    u said it man !

  • Richard Edlin

    Agreed. I don’t agree with him, but it’s well stated 🙂

  • steeltown

    Wont happen

  • steeltown


  • steeltown

    Yep, we have a late season surging Defense, a top flight WR, a stud rookie RB ohh and we have a guy named Ben Roethlisberger… who knows what noise we could’ve made in the playoffs

  • walter mason

    The Steelers were 6-2 but easily could have been 8-0. Ben was tremendous and we put it all together in the end. Did you see Big Ben running down field in the Miami game only to see Brown step out by an inch? Heart goes a long way and its not just Ben and Antonio, its guys like Cam Heyward, Cody Wallace, Kelvin Beachum, Leveon Bell… We were on a roll.

    Cowhers wild card team was a good example. Kansas City and San Diego both suk and KC got what they deserve.


    Welcome, Derrik.

  • Callentown

    The point is simple actually. 8-8 teams do not deserve to be in the playoffs. Period.

  • Callentown

    Sometime, as with Dems and Repubs, there will never be an agreement.

    Either way, if it came down to the best defense playing the best offense, I’ll take the defense to win the game every time. Still today.

    Just like Seattle beat N.O. yesterday. No, not defense alone, but you can see Brees was a different player against them in both games.

    That’s a fact too.

    Case closed.

  • Callentown

    It’s funny how as Steelers fans, so many people BELIEVE that this team would have just rolled thru the playoffs and been in the big game, IF they had only made it in.

    C’mon Stiller fans.. 8-8 puts us in the same place as the Dolphins, Jets, Bears, Cowboys and Ravens.

    Can any of you HONESTLY say that any of these teams DESERVE to be in the playoffs?!?

    Or is this just homer-itis affecting judgment?? There is always next year.

  • Callentown

    And there is no need on a forum consisting of all Steeler fans to move towards name-calling. On Sunday, we all wear the same colors.

    Be cool and chill out. A difference of opinion is healthy or we wouldn’t be here talking.

  • Callentown

    steeltown, I usually find your comments to be very insightful (thanks for that, btw).

    Curious why you are categorizing the Steelers defense as surging when they gave up huge yards and points in weeks 14 and 16 to very average offenses.

  • cencalsteeler

    The Chargers are in the playoffs and they had losses to the Texans, Redskins, Dolphins, Bengals, Titans and the Raiders.

  • MC

    It came down to a missed call on a field goal that kept us out, but the thing with that is, it was a no call on a field goal play involving two different teams.
    I think when you don’t have the record to make the playoffs and you lose to the teams we lost to this year you don’t deserve to be there and i’m glad to be honest. Can we honestly say we would of beaten the pats at home? or Denver at Mile High?
    Be grateful for the higher pick at the end of the day and rebuild this defense so that it can be at a playoff level again.

  • steeltown

    Our Defense played much better late in the year with Heyward, Worilds and Cortez starting full time, but of course our Offense was playing better as well..
    There are a couple instances or games throughout the season that you could point to and just say this Team isn’t good enough, but that’s BS, this game is truly any given Sunday. Hell SanFran (at home) almost flubbed against the Atlanta Falcons a couple weeks back and New England barely squeezed by Houston and Cleveland and lost to Miami late in the year.

  • Callentown

    I really think bringing back Will Allen helped to change the make-up of how the D covered against other teams. Troy playing middle linebacker until then, changed and he moved more to his natural spot.

    Crazy to think a role player like Will Allen could help in that way, but it sure seemed to help.

    Love what we saw in Heyward and Worilds. Still not certain about Cortez being a quality starter game in and game out.

    I wonder what the season would have looked like if the team had a quality back-up in place for the Defensive play caller (Foote) instead of just rookies.

  • steeltown

    With Clark most likely done they should consider re-signing W.Allen for depth, regardless of whether they draft a Safety or not

  • Derrik

    Thanks, long time follower, first time poster. Great stuff here, can’t wait for the mocks, now that the 2013 season is dead to me, haha.