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Steelers News: Why the Steelers were more than just a ‘few plays away’ in 2018

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.

Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how the consensus of many who believe the Steelers were just a ‘few plays away’ from being not just in the playoffs, but a legitimate threat, might be overblown.

Let’s get to the news:

Tim Benz: Don’t kid yourself. Steelers were more than ‘a few plays away.’

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

It was maddening, wasn’t it?

Viewing the NFL playoffs this weekend with no Pittsburgh Steelers game on the ledger.

Watching the Houston Texans get whitewashed at home. Seeing the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens trade special teams gaffes and squandered offensive opportunities. Witnessing the Colts get shut out in the second half, yet win anyway.

The Steelers could’ve beaten any of those teams, right?


Or maybe they would’ve just lost at home again to the Chargers like they did earlier this season.

As Mike Tomlin might say, “You can paint whatever picture you want.”

Well, the 2018 season kind of looked like a Jackson Pollock creation. Paint splattered on a canvas creating a confusing, chaotic image.

Little known fact: That Pollock piece is actually entitled “Steelers lose in Oakland.”


The low-hanging rationalization is that the Steelers were a playoff-worthy team that simply endured a few bad breaks.

”There were some (games) we definitely should have won, but a couple plays here and there, that’s all it takes in the NFL. You never know when they’re coming,” guard David DeCastro told

There’s been a lot of that explanation in Pittsburgh over the last week. From players, fans, some of the “team friendly” members of the media.

”The Steelers were just a few plays away.”

We all know those plays.

Chris Boswell’s field-goal slip in Oakland

• The pass interference calls in New Orleans

• The missed false start against the Chargers

Xavier Grimble’s fumble around the pylon in Denver

James Conner’s fumble at Cleveland in the opening week

Don’t buy that. Don’t let the Steelers off the hook that easily.

For every one of those plays, there were a series of Steelers unfortunate events that allowed those games to be decided by those moments.

(To read more, click in the link in the headline above...)

Ron Cook: Don’t forget what Joey Porter meant to Steelers

By: Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Relatively lost in the mass hysteria surrounding Antonio Brown last week was the firing of Joey Porter as Steelers outside linebackers coach.

That news deserves so much more attention.

It’s not because it was surprising. Job performance dictated it. T.J. Watt grew into a star under Porter’s watch. Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree failed miserably. One out of three might win a batting title in baseball, but it’s not good enough for a football coach, certainly not when it comes to No. 1 draft picks.

There also was Porter’s misbehavior off the field. He was arrested in January 2017 after an altercation with a doorman at a South Side bar a few hours after a Steelers home playoff win against Miami. He temporarily was suspended by Mike Tomlin but coached in the following playoff games at Kansas City and New England. Porter also reportedly was involved an incident at a high school football game in which his son, Joey Jr., a Penn State recruit, played. If true, it was conduct unbecoming of an NFL coach.

Tomlin and Porter weren’t just co-workers, they were close friends. I’m not sure if Porter was fired by Tomlin or Art Rooney II, but it doesn’t matter. The team got it right. Porter had to go.

But that doesn’t mean Pittsburgh didn’t lose one of its more fascinating and enigmatic characters.

It’s easy to forget Porter was one of the Steelers’ more productive players. The proof was his 60 sacks in his eight seasons with the team. Sports Illustrated put him on its pro football edition cover in 2006 and called him the NFL’s “most feared player.”

Porter also was the inspirational leader on some great Steelers teams for reasons that went beyond his “Who ride? We ride!” locker-room chant that became a motivating force. He was at his best even before games when he would stare down the opponent at midfield during warm-ups, helmet off, wearing a black beanie and eye black, his massive forearms and flat stomach exposed for all to see. He rallied his teammates before a playoff game in Indianapolis in 2005 by calling Peyton Manning and the Colts soft, then backed it up with two late sacks in a 21-18 win. He rattled Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens before Super Bowl XL to the point Stevens dropped three passes in the Steelers’ 21-10 win.

Occasionally, Porter stepped over the line. He used a disgraceful homophobic slur to describe Cleveland tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. He was ejected before a game at Cleveland after getting into a fight with running back William Green in warm-ups, opening the door for James Harrison to become a star. He went to the Baltimore bus after a game against the Ravens looking to fight Ray Lewis because he felt Lewis had mocked him.

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)

Analysis: Steelers’ 2019 schedule already looks daunting

By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

While other teams are looking forward to the second round of the playoffs, Steelers fans are resigned to previewing next year’s schedule.

I probably should’ve done that already. Amid a sea of coach firings, AWOL wide receivers, exaggerated injuries and locker room leaks, I’m late to the party.

Come to think of it, I’m glad I’m late because it ain’t pretty.

Free agency hasn’t happened, let alone the draft, so it’s way too early to do the “win-loss, win-loss” thing. However, it’s never too early to look at some trends.

Especially if you are a Steelers fan trying to surf through 16 weeks of land mines.

Truthfully, you should NEVER do the “win-loss, win-loss” thing. It’s pointless. The NFL is too unpredictable.

Unless you are rooting for the Steelers, then you know they’ll gag away at least a game or two (or, *clears throat*, two-and-a-half) that they shouldn’t against bad teams.

You also know there are certain teams they never beat and destinations they never survive.

That’s why I was so paranoid about the team’s schedule coming into 2018. Regardless of what the strength of schedule was from the previous year, the Steelers had to visit Jacksonville, Denver and Oakland. The club entered 2018 a combined 15-29-1 away from Pittsburgh against those three franchises. They were lucky to go 1-2 in those three games, with a narrow win against the Jaguars and losses involving blown fourth-quarter leads against the other two.

None of those teams was above .500 this year, and it was still a struggle.

Now we look ahead and see the following landscape.

• The Steelers have to go to New England. They are 0-5 in Foxborough against the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick combo.

• They travel to the west coast three times. The Steelers visit the Chargers, Cardinals and 49ers.

I don’t care if those last two teams stink. The Steelers are 26-48-1 (including Super Bowls in 1980 and 1996) in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Welcome to 2019 Steelers fans! You’re already 0-4.

• Speaking of west coast teams, the good news is the Steelers get the Seahawks and Rams in Pittsburgh. The bad news is both of those teams made the playoffs this year.

• So did the Colts. They come to Heinz Field next year, too.

(To read more, click the link in the headline above...)