After starting the year 0-4 I think most people would have been ecstatic if you told them the Steelers would have something to play for in terms of the playoffs heading into the final week of the season. Well, here we are. The Steelers won and a bunch of teams that needed to lose did just that and the Steelers have an outside shot of making the playoffs next week.
It's not going to be easy and it certainly isn't probable but you know what I am trying to tell you.
This was vintage Green Bay/Lambeau Field football. It was cold and the field was all mucked up and there was a lot on the line for both teams. It was a pretty exciting game if you liked seeing offense. If you liked the defensive aspect of the game there were short spurts of it but this was mostly a shootout.
The teams traded leads and were fighting back and forth all game but it wasn't until a Cortez Allen interception that he took back 40 yards for a touchdown that it gave the Steelers some breathing room. Now that didn't mean the game was over and actually it wasn't over as the Packers came back to tie the game up and then almost tied it up in the final second of the game but it all went for not. Steelers win.
This game had a little bit of everything. The Steelers going for it on fourth down with in their second to last possession of the game and converting via Will Johnson, the Steelers giving Mat McBriar a chance to show off the arm with a fake punt, the Steelers blocking a field goal and then for some reason the Packers getting the ball back, and the run game carrying the team. A whole bunch of crazy stuff going on.
The running game was pretty outstanding. Now, the Packers are really bad on defense and stopping the run isn't something they are good at but at the same time the Steelers have really struggled this year to move the football. Le'Veon Bell wanted to go out and prove to himself and to others that Eddie Lacy wasn't going to be better than he is/was. Bell toted the ball 26 times for 124 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown turned out to be the game winner and while that will get the highlights Bell was once again outstanding and showing that he is turning into one of the better rookies this season despite missing time at the beginning of the year.
Thanks to the running game the Steelers didn't have to really rely on the passing game. That wasn't really the case but the passing game was having a tough go of it with the weather and Ben Roethlisberger only completed 16-of-28 passes for 167 yards and only a 6.0 yard per attempt average. Antonio Brown was literally about the only guy who was able to make things go as he caught six passes for 105 yards on 13 targets. The second leading receiver on the team was David Paulson who had 30 yards on one catch which came on the fake punt. Heath Miller caught three passes for 17 yards and Matt Spaeth had a catch for 11 yards. That's pretty much it. Not overly productive.
Defensively the Steelers didn't do all that well but they made plays when they had to. Green Bay ran 72 plays on the game opposed to the Steelers 59 and the Packers were able to have success on the ground. While Bell was doing a great job for the Steelers the Packers' Lacy also was really good. Sure, he only had 84 yards but that was on a mere 15 carries for a 5.6 yard per carry average. As a team the Packers gained 151 yards on the ground. The Steelers were able to get after the Packers in the passing game allowing Matt Flynn to throw for only a 5.9 yard per attempt average and had the pick six and forced a fumble when Flynn tried to scramble on a third and eight with the score tied and on two minutes left. Troy Polamalu got the hit and would have dropped Flynn a yard short and forced a punt but instead the Steelers got the ball at the Green Bay 17 and scored six plays later. That is the big time defensive play that the team wasn't getting earlier in the year.
Maybe the play of the game came on that following series. The Packers actually stopped the Steelers and forced a field goal attempt from the Green Bay 10 yard line. The Steelers went on a hard count and the Packers jumped offsides. They jumped offsides. Automatic first down for the Steelers. Instead of a field goal they scored a touchdown. Instead of going to overtime the Steelers won the football game. Special teams showed up in a big way and won the Steelers a football game. Just unreal stuff.
The Steelers have to have a lot of stuff happen but beating the Browns is step number one. Take care of that and hope for the best.