The Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoff chances took a significant hit on Saturday with a 30-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in a game that had massive playoff implications in the AFC.
The Colts (8-6) not only jump ahead of the Steelers (7-7), it also gives them the huge tiebreaker edge in the AFC wild-card race due to the head-to-head win.
Combined with the Cincinnati Bengals win earlier in the day, the Steelers now find themselves on the outside of the AFC playoff field and continuing what has been a stunning — and ugly — second half collapse.
Saturday’s game saw the Steelers jump out to a 13-0 lead and look to be in complete control of the game before completely unraveling.
They turned the ball over three times, including two brutal interceptions from backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky, lost two more key starters on defense when Damontae Kazee was ejected and Minkah Fitzpatrick was injured, and gave up 30 unanswered points.
They also committed several costly penalties, while Mike Tomlin made a baffling decision to punt inside the Indianapolis 40-yard line while down by two scores in the fourth quarter.
It was a mess. It also continues what has been a dreadful stretch run.
For the Steelers, it is their third consecutive loss that has seen them completely fall out of a playoff spot after having what looked to be a clear path to the postseason just two weeks ago.
They were 7-4, held the top wild card spot in the AFC, were within a game of the Baltimore Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North and had one of the most favorable remaining schedules in the league.
They had back-to-back home games against 2-10 teams Arizona and New England, and were going to play most of their second half schedule against backup quarterbacks.
Starting with their Week 10 game in Cleveland the opposing quarterbacks on their schedule were Dorian Thompson-Robinson (Cleveland), Jake Browning (Cincinnati), Kyler Murray (Arizona), Bailey Zappe (New England), Gardner Minshew (Indianapolis), Browning again, and then closing out the season with Geno Smith (Seattle) and Lamar Jackson (Baltimore).
Missing the playoffs with that situation seemed almost impossible to imagine.
But they have already lost four of the first five games on the above list, including both games (at home) to the 2-10 teams. Given the injury situation and the way they have played over the past few weeks it is not a stretch to imagine them losing out the rest of the way, while the playoffs now seem to be an extreme long shot. If they miss that will be seven consecutive seasons without a playoff win in Pittsburgh and the fifth time in six years they failed to win at least 10 games.
At some point they need to start looking in the mirror and asking themselves if they have the right people in charge.