I still remember the moment as if it happened yesterday.
It was Week 1 of the 2022 NFL regular season, and the Steelers had just upset the Bengals, the defending AFC champions, in overtime at Paycor Stadium.
I was really feeling my ongoing fitness revolution on this particular day, which would explain why I was standing in my living room in nothing but a pair of shorts as I watched Chris Boswell’s 53-yard field goal sail through the uprights on the last play of extra time (as they say in soccer—I think).
I jumped up and down as if Pittsburgh had just dethroned the Bengals for the right to be called defending AFC champion.
My exact thought at that precise moment was this: “Wow, I can’t believe the Steelers went on the road in Week 1 and defeated a heavy Super Bowl favorite for the second straight year.”
Honestly, I didn’t give the Steelers a chance in heck of doing what they did at Highmark Stadium against Buffalo one year earlier.
Speaking of which, that game against the Bills in September of 2021 felt like it happened just a few weeks prior to the Bengals matchup in September of 2022. I suppose this is what happens when you get a little older. It’s probably also the result of the never-ending football coverage that has transformed the NFL offseason from something that was just “there” into a highly-active entity that’s almost as popular as the regular season.
That may especially be the case if you’re a huge draft fan or someone who lusts after even the very thought of the Steelers acquiring a player via free agency and/or trade.
The non-stop coverage of the Steelers and the NFL has made the offseason less depressing in recent years, even if it has also made it much more annoying since there never seems to be any downtime—not even outrage takes a day off during the NFL offseason. (Seriously, go watch some baseball/hockey/March Madness/Ozark.)
But no matter how omnipresent the NFL is during the offseason—even the Combine and schedule reveal get top sports billing—it doesn’t hold a candle to the regular season.
I look forward to that time so much, and I still get a bit down when it’s all over. I’m always a little sad when the Steelers season ends, of course, but much like the 11 days after Christmas when you still see trees and decorations everywhere, I can at least find joy in the NFL’s postseason; even without the Steelers in the postseason, it's still fun to watch one compelling storyline after another lead us to the league’s next Lombardi hoister.
My sports mood truly takes a hit right after the Super Bowl, and I know I must prepare myself to show an interest in the free agency period and, obviously, the draft—the actual regular season for a lot of folks (you know who you are).
Much like that relative with all the cats and flying fur whose house you must stay at for a bit, it takes me a while to get comfortable “caring” about things other than actual football games that just took place or are about to take place.
But at least I know the Steelers next regular-season game will be here before I know it. It will most likely be on the road (when isn’t it?), and it will most likely be against a tough opponent.
I’m sure I’ll be doubting that the Steelers can pull a Week-1 three-peat, but I probably won’t be surprised when and if they do.
Until then, it’s been real.
Thanks for the memories, Steelers '22.