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The 4-6 Steelers are within striking distance of a wild card in the AFC

If a 17-0 performance against the Lions in the second half didn't show the Steelers are up to vying for a playoff spot, nothing else ever will.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

On the steam of a thrilling 37-27 win over the visiting Detroit Lions, the Steelers suddenly find themselves one game out of the wild card hunt in the balanced AFC.

The Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh's Week 12 opponents, got slaughtered in Cincinnati, falling 41-20 to the division-leading Bengals. Cincinnati improved to 7-4.

But there are stacks of teams between 5-5 and 4-6, meaning the Steelers have as much of a chance as many other teams as capturing a playoff berth.

The difference is, those teams didn't start 0-4 on the season.

What's been the turnaround? Does it even matter?

Judging by the newfound offensive production highlighted against Detroit by a no-huddle approach for the entire game - also known as the Ben Gun - and a defense that was crippled in the first half, only to rebound to shut the Lions out over the final 30 minutes, sure, why isn't it possible?

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Steelers got a fourth-quarter turnover. Will Allen picked off a Matthew Stafford duck intended for Calvin Johnson to take the ball back up three points. Ben Roethlisberger hit Jerricho Cotchery on a fake bubble screen wheel route for a 20-yard touchdown pass to seal it.

Detroit stood up to their defensive billing as far as stopping the run - Pittsburgh finished with 40 yards on the ground. But they had no answer whatsoever for the Steelers' best weapon.


In a performance that will likely incur AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors (29-for-45, 367 yards, four touchdowns), Roethlisberger dragged his team down the field on a phenomenal 16-play, 97-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown pass to Will Johnson.

There's no one to blame after this game. It's an odd place for Steelers fans, but the fact is the second half - the one where coaching takes over - wasn't won by the Steelers.

It was completely and totally dominated. If the team on the field at the end of this game can't compete for a playoff berth if they're down a game or a game and a half with six to play, it's unclear who is.

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