Continuing to root for the Steelers to make the playoffs

Vincent Pugliese

At this point, seeing the words Steelers and playoffs together surely elicits from many people thoughts of Jim Mora incredulously saying, "Playoffs??!!"

This is a particularly dark moment, as the endings of the past two games have been about as brutal as any I've watched. On Sunday, by the edge of Antonio Brown's cleat, our chances of making the playoffs dropped from around 75 percent to under 2 percent. The miracle was ohsoclose but didn't come to pass.

But here's the thing: in 1960, before I was born, my grandmother attended the Mazeroski game. Into her late 90s, she continued to tell me the amazing story, including how throngs from the surrounding states immediately flooded into Pittsburgh for the spontaneous, ecstatic celebration.

And when I was a baby, my parents attended the Immaculate Reception game. In our household of Steelers fans in the 1970s, as you might imagine, this came up more than once.

In the early 1980s, my family moved from Pittsburgh to the New York area and I became a Mets fan. A few years later came Game Six and I found myself jumping deliriously in my basement and hugging a group of guys who remain among my closest friends.

And more recently, during the Divisional Round in January 2011, the Steelers trailed by two touchdowns at halftime to the Ravens. The memory is still fresh of what came with about two minutes left: in the upper deck of Heinz Field, my brother and I were screaming and hugging each other and strangers when (there he was again) Antonio Brown pinned a 3rd-and-19, 58-yard bomb to his helmet to set up the go-ahead touchdown for possibly the Steelers greatest playoff comeback since Franco managed to stay in bounds along the sideline.

I am, therefore, acutely aware of the power of the miraculous comeback: the ecstatic joy when the near impossible just might, just might and does!

So, yes, the Steelers' chances right now are not good. But I will continue to hold out hope until the Steelers are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, not despite but because of the improbability of the odds. I say keep a shred of hope alive and keep watching. Or you just might miss it when the absurdly unlikely transpires, the kind of moment that a half-century from now you’ll still be telling your not-even-yet-born grandkid.

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