When the Steelers 2017 schedule was unveiled in April, it wasn't so much a surprise that they were slated to play five prime-time regular season games (that's pretty standard for the Black-and-gold), the surprise was in all five games coming within a six-week stretch—and that stretch starting in Week 8.
I don't mind prime-time games so much (although, 1 p.m. is always Ideal), but to lump all of them together like that just didn't seem to make any sense.
As fans are prone to do when discussing a team's schedule, you had to think there would be a slip-up during this string at some point, right?
If it wasn't on the road against an NFC team like the Lions in Week 8, surely it would be at home against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Week 11.
But, unless you immediately went into hibernation after Pittsburgh's final prime-time affair last Sunday night—a 39-38 division-clinching thriller over the Ravens at Heinz Field—you now know there wasn't even a single slip-up.
That's quite remarkable, considering "thriller" was the main theme of the Steelers’ prime-time matchups in 2017—meaning only one of them was a laugher, and three of the games were won on last-second field goals by Chris Boswell.
And when I say "last-second," in two of those cases, this was literal, as the Sunday night game against the Packers, and the Monday night game against the Bengals weren't finally decided until the clock read: 0:00.
Think about that.
You go into a season wondering how a stretch like five prime-time affairs in six weeks will shake out, but the odds of anyone predicting a last-second field goal deciding three of them—and each outcome favoring the good guys—are about as long as the odds are for this to actually happen in the first place.
As a fan of 38 years (yes, I'm finally getting to the point that I think my “fan tenure" deserves to be highlighted), this has been without a doubt the most unique season I have ever experienced.
And I’ve actually experienced it, at least in terms of this being my first year to co-host a podcast—specifically The Final Score with Bryan Anthony Davis.
I mean, it's one thing to have a few hours to digest a game, which allows you to Google some stats and even write an article. By the time 9 p.m. rolls around—the standard time for The Final Score to commence—you’ve got some pretty polished thoughts to convey to the audience.
But to do it mere seconds after, for example, Boswell connects on a 53-yard game-winner against the Packers?
Don't get me wrong, the five post-prime-time shows I've done with Bryan have been my favorites.
Number one, the Steelers won all five of them.
And, number two, I mean, a 53-yarder at Heinz Field? Are you kidding me?
Who wouldn't have an adrenaline rush after that?
Perhaps, my neighbors—the one above me; and the one next to me—that's who.
In recent seasons, I was able to mute my prime-time "Yeahs!" because, well, my one neighbor has knocked on my door a few times over the years and accused me of making noise even when I wasn't (think Mr. Heckles from Friends).
This season however—this prime-time stretch, specifically—I just haven't been able to mute those loud "Yeahs!"
I believe they went to 11 a few times, actually.
A 53-yard game-winner at Heinz Field, holy bleep!
Not to mention those two goal-line stands against the Lions, as well as everything that took place last week in what ultimately added up to that division clincher vs. the Ravens.
I remember back nine years ago when everyone complained about the Steelers’ tough schedule—the toughest in the NFL in like 25 years, in fact--and for them to not just thrive in that schedule, but somehow find a way to reel off 12 victories was pretty historic.
Yes, with both stretches, some luck was needed—back then, they avoided an injured Tom Brady, which perhaps laid the foundation for a 33-10 beat-down at, of all places, Gillette Stadium. This year, they avoided an injured Rodgers, which perhaps laid the groundwork for that 53-yard game-winner at Heinz Field—but you have to give them credit for accomplishing all that they did.
If you're a Steelers hater, you're probably sick and tired of their stretch of prime-time games.
Maybe, but I'll bet you're not as sick and tired of it as they are.
Now, we can all sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet of that 4:25 game against the Patriots this Sunday.