The 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers season ended last weekend when San Diego beat Kansas City’s B-squad 27-24.
It capped off a miracle run by the Chargers to the playoffs and ended Pittsburgh’s own strong finish.
Now that we’ve had a little time to calm down and reflect (Seriously Ryan Succop? 41 yards to win the game!? It’s no wonder your team lost to a mountain man in the playoffs) on the season that was, I want to say thank you to some people for making the Steelers’ season memorable.
First off, thank you Antonio Brown.
Pittsburgh’s 0-4 start would have been completely unwatchable without you.
The rest of your teammates eventually stepped up, but you didn’t slack off.
Brown made the Associated Press All-Pro Second team behind Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon.
Losing out to a Brown hurts, but he’s in good company with AJ Green and Demaryius Thomas.
His 1,499 receiving yards were second in the league behind Gordon and set a Steelers’ franchise record.
Reflect on that for a minute. Think about the great receivers in Pittsburgh history.
Even Mike Wallace.
None of them ever gained that many yards.
He also scored eight touchdowns on 110 receptions, which ranked him second in the league behind Pierre Garcon.
Then there’s the return game. Brown always provides electricity when you kick it to him.
Ask the Bengals.
No player outside of Ben Roethlisberger meant more to Pittsburgh’s offense this year.
Speaking of offense, the Steelers finally started winning near the end of the season thanks to the reemergence of their running game.
You can attribute a large portion of that to rookie Le’Veon Bell.
He finished with 860 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in addition to 45 catches and 399 yards.
Bell is clearly the back of the future in Pittsburgh, but I don’t want to thank him.
I want to thank Pittsburgh’s medical staff.
Thank you Dr. James P. Bradley, Dr. Mark Duca, Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Anthony P. Yates for keeping the Steelers upright in a season where they looked like the walking wounded.
Bell injured his foot in the preseason, and they helped nurse him back to health throughout the regular season, which helped keep the pressure off of Big Ben’s passing.
Heath Miller was hurt at the beginning of the season before he worked his way back into the lineup.
Team doctors also had to handle a Maurkice Pouncey torn ACL and MCL during the first game of the regular season and managed Brett Keisel’s various ailments.
There’s no way around it, this team was old. It takes more effort from a medical staff to keep high mileage bodies on the field and performing.
Pittsburgh’s medical staff excelled.
The Steelers looked dead in the water after an 0-4 start, so I want to thank some other teams in the league for helping them into a position to play a meaningful game at the end of the season.
Thank you Baltimore, San Diego, Miami, Tennessee and the New York Jets for struggling down the stretch and letting the Steelers back into the wild card race.
Thank you Cincinnati and the Jets for pushing Pittsburgh to the brink of the playoffs after a Week 17 victory over Cleveland.
No thank you to Kansas City and Ryan Succop for managing to not win their final week matchup with San Diego.
Sure you were locked into the No. 5 seed, but it’s a matter of principle.
Your former coach said it best, “You play to win the game.”
Sure, he coached for the Jets at the time, but he still said it.
You’ve let Herm Edwards down Kansas City.
Apologies for the digression, maybe I’m not as over that kick as I thought.
Pittsburgh didn’t let that slow them down.
A 6-2 run to end the season is a great way to go into the offseason.
We’re all expecting big things next year, Pittsburgh.
In the meantime, thanks for the memories.