NEW CASTLE — A successful boot by the Kansas City placekicker was all that separated Pittsburgh from a wildly improbable postseason berth.
You can just imagine the excitable, teenager-ish chatter among the Steelers while watching Ryan Succop line up that 41-yard field goal attempt last evening in San Diego.
Must have sounded like the Sprint commercial featuring James Earl Jones and Malcolm McDowell, except honoring a texting conversation between Mike Tomlin and Dan Rooney.
“Can you believe this?” texted the head coach. “Chase Daniel is a total Hottie McHotterson.”
“Totes adorbs,” typed the octogenarian owner. “Making the playoffs this year would be amazeballs.”
Amazing, indeed, that there was life in the Steelers at all, what with everyone having buried them following an 0-4 start.
And yet, an extraordinarily unlikely series of events over the last two weekends left the Steelers precisely in that position, pending that successful field goal, of course.
Eight games needed to go their way. Seven down, one to go.
The Steelers took care of business with another solid victory, rolling over Cleveland 20-7 at Heinz Field. That result was the most predictable of all the eight games in question.
That Cincinnati was able to dispatch of Baltimore was no big shock, as the Ravens have been average all season. That the New York Jets were able to upset host Miami, with a playoff berth on the line for the Dolphins, was more of a surprise.
But there was really no reason to expect that the Chiefs, with nearly all of their important starters inactive (understandably) while resting for next week’s wild card game, could go into San Diego and beat the Chargers in a playoff atmosphere for the home team.
Yet there they were, tied 24-24 with a few seconds left, ready to win and put the Steelers into the playoffs with a 41-yard kick.