My headline is a bit of a lie.
I say that because there were a lot of Browns supporters in the stands that day, and they were openly rooting for the Dolphins to knock off the Jets down in Miami (the life of a Browns fan. Sigh).
Anyway, I can’t say that I blame Browns fans for that, and, hey, at least they recognized the importance and privilege of seeing a team that one cheers for actually make the postseason.
I was also in attendance, and I can say that, in addition to those Browns fans, every Steelers supporter at Acristure Stadium recognized the importance and privilege of a playoff berth and was actively rooting for the Jets to pull off the mini-upset down in South Florida. In fact, chants of “J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!” could be heard among folks in the crowd (maybe even by me).
It was pretty clear by that point—midway through the fourth quarter—that Pittsburgh was going to defeat the Brownies. Meanwhile, up in Buffalo, the playoff-bound Bills were about to punt the playoff-hopeful Patriots into the offseason.
The only domino that still remained for the Steelers, a team that was once 2-6 and 5-8, stood in Miami. The game was tied at six late in the fourth quarter. If the Jets, led by Joe Flacco of all people, could do his old rival a solid, that old rival would go to the playoffs. All around me, you could hear fans updating other fans on the events taking place down in the home of Michael Westen.
My buddy from Twitter, Chuck, who graciously invited me to the game, kept me updated via his smartphone. He also said (and I’m paraphrasing a bit but not by much), “If the Steelers make the playoffs after starting 2-6, I’ll go bleeping crazy.”
Sadly, New York couldn’t knock that last domino down. The Dolphins kicked a late field goal to punch their ticket to the dance. Mocking updates from Browns fans, including “Fins up!” could be heard all around me. As the reality of the situation set in, Acrisure Stadium quickly began to empty. The Steelers game was still going on, but the season was effectively over.
The Steelers were out of the playoffs, and everyone went home disappointed (except those Browns fans).
Why was I a bit shocked that so many—including yours truly and Chuck—were disappointed?
It’s probably because I had my mind poisoned by Twitter and all of those arguments I had with folks who insisted that making the playoffs was pointless for these 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers.
As an aside, let me just tell you how great it was to watch an entire Steelers game without looking at Twitter once (mainly because I didn’t want to elbow people as I reached into my pocket to pull out my smartphone). As an aside to this aside—and I realize this is going to make me sound like a huge jackhole—why do 28 Tweeters inform the rest of Twitter that the Steelers just picked up a first down every time they pick up a first down? I know this is for the folks who can’t watch the game on television but isn’t that what Googling “Steelers score” is for?
That works just fine.
Back to my regularly-scheduled opinion.
Obviously, it means the world to fans when their teams make the playoffs.
To repeat what I said in a separate article about this very subject: This is why fans fan.
Everyone at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday—even those annoying Browns fans—got it.
Unfortunately, the ones who didn’t want Pittsburgh to make the playoffs (I’m assuming most of these fans reside on social media) got their wish. The Steelers will have a slightly better draft pick (plural) than they would have had they been preparing to take on the Bills this weekend in the wildcard round.
Instead of talking about a potential upset in Buffalo—making the Bills mafia an offer they simply could not refuse—we get an early start on that sexy draft talk.
Should they take a cornerback? How about a left tackle? THEY NEED A GENERATIONAL INSIDE LINEBACKER!
Yay, I’m alive with pleasure now!