New Castle News
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.
As they so often say, you always want your destiny to be controlled by a kicker named Succop.
Succop. That’s half-right.
Move over Francisco Cabrera, there’s another public enemy No. 1 in Pittsburgh, at least No. 1a.
When Succop missed wide right, the Steelers and Steelers Nation gasped. When Daniel threw incomplete on fourth down late in overtime with San Diego winning 27-24, the Steelers and Steelers Nation groaned.
But to be honest, the Steelers are who we thought they were.
A mediocre team that doesn’t deserve to be playing next week.
While it is true that winning in Cincinnati next week would have been possible, similar to the 2005 postseason when they upset the host Bengals in the wild card round, the following week the Steelers would have drawn mighty Peyton Manning in Denver, where they would have likely seen this mini-Cinderella turn back into a pumpkin.
Y’know, much like during the 2005 postseason, when the sixth-seeded Steelers were crushed by Peyton Manning’s top-seeded Colts in Indianapolis in the division round.
Wait a minute ...
Come to think of it, now is not the time to lament where the Steelers failed this season. Now is the time to vent what might have been.
Go ahead and blame Succop for everything. That guy just cost the Steelers a chance of duplicating their impossible run to victory in Super Bowl XL, right down to the details of a wild card game in Cincinnati and upsetting top-seeded Manning the next weekend.
Better yet, wait until next season, when the Chiefs come to town.
You think Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber was treated roughly by the Steelers a few weeks back? How would you like to be Succop running down the field on the opening kickoff of that game next season?
In the stands there will be plenty of booze backing up plenty of boos times infinity plus another infinity.
Perhaps Succop will miss a field goal to cost the Chiefs a win in the playoffs.
That would be Totes McGotes.
(Steve Treu covers the Steelers for The News.)