Steelers Cede Control Of Top Seed To Patriots With Loss

Regardless of the fashion by which the Pittsburgh Steelers came to be defeated by the New England Patriots, the end result is ultimately the same: they have now ceded control for the number one seed in the AFC, which they would have nearly secured for themselves with a win.

The Steelers and Patriots now enter the final two weeks of the season tied with the best record in the conference at 11-3, but should New England win their final two games, they would win the top seed, and own homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, regardless of what any other team does.

In other words, Pittsburgh now needs to get help if they hope to claim that top mark for themselves. Specifically, they would need to count upon either the Bills or the Jets, the latter of whom lost their starting quarterback, to go into Foxboro and hand the defending Super Bowl champions a loss. While the Dolphins were able to beat them in Miami, I don’t like the chances of either of their other division rivals handing Pittsburgh a gift.

Worse still, the Steelers’ grasp upon a bye week has suddenly gotten much more precarious, because the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of just three teams to defeat them this season, now find themselves right behind them with a 10-4 record after blowing out the Texans today.

In order to assure that they at least retain control for the number two seed, Pittsburgh would have to secure victories in their final two games over the Texans in Houston on Christmas and then in the finale against the Browns at home.

While that should be a quite doable task, nothing should be taken for granted, and the unknown severity of the injury to Antonio Brown greatly complicates things. The Texans’ defense, even without J.J. Watt, is certainly no joke, nor is DeAndre Hopkins.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, still have plenty to play for, including a critical game in the final week of the season in Tennessee. The Titans—the only team that Pittsburgh has blown out this year—could really do Pittsburgh a great favor by handing them a loss.

The playoff picture for the Steelers has suddenly become much more murky with tonight’s dagger of a loss, even if it showed how competitive that they can be even against the best of competition, and even while they are understaffed.

Basically, it is now seemingly impossible for the season finale not to mean something for the Steelers, unless I’m missing something. They could still finish anywhere between the first and third seed depending on how the Patriots and Jaguars finish over the final two weeks, so there’s still a lot of meaningful football ahead.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • T-51b

    Say what you want, but I doubt the NFL would’ve overturned play if the Steelers were playing another team.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    i’ll see yall in the off season. im done. later.

  • Anthony Palmerston

    Steelers need to draft someone in the first round to cover Gronk lol.

  • Kevin Schwartz

    Man, I’m spent after that game.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    No. The refs ceded the top seed to the pats. Not the Steelers

  • Kevin artis

    Why is Davis left to cover Gronk alone? Especially after getting beat three straight catches..

  • 2winz

    please, please draft a safety or sign a safety in the offseason please! Mike Mitchell is NOT a free safety! I called it every single time before the ball was snapped, i was shouting at the tv for mitchell to roll over to gronk,, never happened! 2 pt conversion.. they have one chance to get it in the endsone.. i wonder what they do.. hmm, you have a strong dominant 6’7 tight end manbeast.. i told my dad.. its a fade, no question, mitchell needed to go to gronk and he hesitated and idk what he really was trying to do, but it never had a chance. then we would have had a chance at the end to kick the game winning field goal instead of trying to get a td

  • Ryan Alderman

    I just can’t believe we lost…

  • 2winz

    i said the same thing whole 2nd half.. its because mike mitchell is not a true free safety

  • Ryan Alderman

    Little adversity..okay, a lot but still… and you quit? You’re better than that I hope.

  • jl9744

    Last year against the Bengals, Grimble td

  • GravityWon

    Mitchell isnt a very good playmaker.

    Plus how can Gronk get so much separation over a guy who played CB in college. I understand if he out muscles our guys.for the ball…..but college open?

  • jl9744

    I’m more than confident that we’ll get the one that matters most regardless of where it’s played.

  • westernsteel

    how are you confident? because our defense was able to stop the patriots? new year….same game…we’ve all seen it before..

  • Darth Blount 47

    I’m convinced that the “powers that be” will never let us beat the Cheaters with Big Ben. It WON’T HAPPEN. That’s not being negative or pessimistic, that’s just being REAL. The call on the field was TD. NOT SHOCKING that it was only overturned after the boys in New York had a chance to influence and make THEIR CALL.

  • Chad Sanborn

    Or the play where AB reached over the line to get the win against the Ratbirds. Once you reach over its a TD. period

  • Chad Sanborn


  • Chad Sanborn

    Well we can still grab the #1 seed with a win next week and a NE loss. They play Buffalo who has to keep winning to keep their wildcard spot. So it won’t be easy.

  • Shane Mitchell

    He was horrible as a CB in college, if you look at his stats he was one of the worst CB in college football in coverage, we couldnt have picked a worse player out of every DB on the roster to put in man coverage against Gronkowski.

  • nutty32

    Sure it’s easier when you don’t have anything on the line, but Romo had a steeler win much better planned out than the staff for the last six minutes of the game.

  • jl9744

    Let me see… best offensive weapon left game in first half but not out for season. Best CB on his way back. Really only have to stop Gronk which takes a simple assingment adjustment. Just assign Mike Hilton to him. Oh yeah…they needed the refs to win the game for them this year!

    And tbh, I still believe we’ll host the AFC championship game this year and it won’t be against them.

  • westernsteel

    Well I hope you are right

  • T R

    Hey YAL just win out.. Remember that year the Bills help us out and beat a team so we can make playoffs. They will beat the Patriots and help us out again. and we claim out #number 1 seed back .. calling it now

  • BurghBoy412

    It’s definitely time to have the Mike Mitchell talk. He’s not nearly athletic enough to play FS at this point. He’s late on practically every play. What he brings mentally no longer makes up for what he lacks physically. He’s due a lot of money next season and there are younger more talented guys that need to be signed to long term deals. Mitchell should be let go after this year.

  • 2winz

    I truly think that will put us over the top defensively. that and a middle linebacker. maybe move davis to fs and get a ss if we cant get one in the offseason

  • nikgreene

    I got to disagree that there is some conspiracy in favor of the Patriots. The call is disappointing, and I agree that the catch is still murky and not consistently applied. However, the refs, and the ‘boys in New York’ did not have any control over the fact that Jesse lunged awkwardly for the goal line. I don’t begrudge James the effort, but you have to maintain control of the ball, or just tuck it and take a play from the 1 yard line.

  • nikgreene

    “the catch rule is murky and not consistently applied

  • Darth Blount 47

    Agree to disagree. 2 penalties for 4 yards. I believe according to Alex, that hasn’t happened in 15 years and only 4 times total. Name me the last “big” call that went against NE? The call on the field was TD. That means, you needed incontrovertible evidence to overturn. Was that there? Truly incontrovertible?! I think not. So at the least, the call on the field is supposed to stand.

    And Jesse DID maintain control of the ball. IMO. He caught it, cleanly, then went down to a knee, reached out the ball, crossed the line, and then hit the ground, and his hands NEVER left the ball. Did the ball “move?” Sure, the ball essentially ALWAYS “moves.” But the question is did he ever not have at least 1 hand holding the ball at all times? I say he did. Unquestionably.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Yesterday’s game was a prelude to the SB, only if Pittsburgh won.

    Now, things change dramatically. Still have to win 2 games for a bye, won’t be able to rest players in week 17 and still have to go to NE – if everything goes right.

    Was fun while it lasted tho! Focking New England. I still don’t know how they won that game.