An Onside For Our Season

Never understood why Cleveland has an Elf for their old school logo.
But he sure as shit could ruin my Christmas. Little fucker.

The high point of this season was likely the Denver game. The Steelers defeated one of only a handful of remaining undefeated of the top AFC teams at the time, on the road. We looked the part of a proper Defending Champion squad. The Steelers' percentage of making the playoffs at the time, sitting at 6-2, was 87.8%.

And yet, here we sit.
A .500 ball club at 6-6.
Four straight losses.
Injured and inept starters.

Steeler Nation is shell-shocked. Efforts to discern the cause of our struggles are reaching a frantic and fevered pitch. For some, this has devolved into bickering and finger-pointing. A porous defense. An unreliable offense. Historically bad special teams. The excitement of what a title defense can be has given way to the notion of what could have been.

And so, our season (at least the remainder of it) is much like an onside kick.

You know what I'm talking about. You're sitting there in front of your TV, at the bar or at the stadium. Your team is losing. The clock is winding down. You start to think about what the loss will mean to your day. Your attitude that week. To your team's season. It's a sick feeling.

Is it insurmountable?


Look, I'm not a cheerleader. I'm not here to "Rah Rah" us on blindly. We look like shit. We look like a team that at best would get embarrassed on Wild Card weekend. But there's four weeks left and so much can happen in that time. What's it going to take?

Well, first off, we need PERFECTION.

Some have labeled the remaining schedule as difficult or even too much to overcome. And while we do face as many as three potential playoff teams, the task of winning out (gulp) CAN be achieved. Four wins. One at a time. If we've learned anything, it's that we shouldn't look past this week. Beat Cleveland. However you can. By as many or as little points as you can. Beat Cleveland and your reward is a 10 day lay-off and a home game. Possibly even Polamalu back in the lineup. Beat Cleveland because I don't think I can handle the prospect of going 1-4 against the AFC North. Beat Cleveland because even with injuries and Tomlin "shaking up" the lineup, we still have far more talent than them. Beat Cleveland because even though the idea that the playoffs started last week or the week before it REALLY is the case, now.

We also need LUCK.

It is naive to think that some of football isn't determined by luck. In fact, Steeler fans clinging to their Terrible Towels, recalling The Immaculates (Reception and Interception) and otherwise will be the first to acknowledge that some of what it takes to reach the tournament is just plain good fortune. The ball bouncing off of rookie cornerback Joe Burnett's chest Sunday would be an example of NOT getting the luck we need. . At some point, in some game, there will be a turnover or a coach's challenge or a penalty...something that can go either way. In a way, it's fitting that we're pitted againgst Cleveland this week. No franchise has been more unlucky than they. If we can't make our own luck Thursday, it'll be obvious that the season is over. We've burned through our wiggle room by losing our last four and now we need to catch nearly all of these breaks. The ball must bounce our way or we'll be bounced from the playoffs.

We need HELP.

Relying on others adds to the uneasy feeling we all have. Are we excited to be cheering for the Raiders to beat Denver now? No. But we have no choice. I'm done extrapolating in this space who we need to root for and against. Besides, it's too voluminous. Go HERE if you care to see the raw data. We need Jacksonville to stumble (can happen) and only one team to come out of the West. And that's just a start. There are still too many permutations to factor and winning is more than enough to concern ourselves with for now.

The likelihood of an NFL team recovering an onside kick is listed at between 15 and 20%. That's about where we are now. What our percentage is. 16% or so.

I think we can do it. But, I have no idea if we will.

Or if the Denver Game will remain our high point.

Nightmare. Fuel.


DeltaSigDip said...

Not to contradict what youre saying, but why would we need baltimore to lose a second game in addition to us beating them?

If we beat baltimore the best they can finish is 9-7 and operating under the assumption we win out, that puts us at 10-6 and them behind us.

I agree 100% on the onside kick metaphor. Problem is an onside kick you know whats up after about 15 seconds. We have to wait (hopefully) a month.

Spatula said...

The English Department where I teach just hired a guy who is a Cleveland fan. His office is next to mine. I may not go to work on Friday.

Dixie Normess said...

@DeltaSig: you're right. I wrote the post last night, prior to the Green Bay game and didn't get it up until today. So...fixed.

gamechump said...

Everyone at my place of work has been like death since the OAK loss. I can't feel that awful when I saw a super bowl win from a team that had no business doing it in 2005. The point is I am glad that this post was not all doom and gloom. Pretty much the only person I have heard say anything positive. You get a high five.

/gay high five

I am embarrassed and sad about losing and FUCKING HATE HATE HATE HATE RYAN CLARK WITH A PASSION but I will be positive and have faith until we, mathematically, can't be a playoff team... Or until we lose to the Browns. Either or. I mean , GOD I will kill myself on Thur if we lose. I am not kidding. This will be the last time I post because I will be fucking dead.

Christmas Ape said...

Nice post.

One quibble: Denver wasn't undefeated when the Steelers played them. They lost to the Ravens the week before.

The Vikings may be who you're thinking of.

Dixie Normess said...

Yea, how soon I forget our run in with the "Favre Twins", Jesus. Finals week is taking its toll on my Grey matter.