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Chris Richardson
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Chris Richardson

The lead writer for IntentionalFoul.com.

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Memo to LaMarr Woodley: Before whining about other teams laying down, therefore blocking Pittsburgh's ordained appearance in the NFL Playoffs, maybe your Steelers should take care of business against teams like the Cleveland Browns, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. Getting swept by the Cincinnati Bengals, one of the targets of your verbal tears, didn't help the cause too much either.

And with that, I'm answering the question about which team had the most choke-worthy season: The Pittsburgh Steelers. You know, the defending Super Bowl champions? Missing the playoffs after such an accomplishment should be a crime, especially when you retain the majority of the team that won the whole thing a year earlier. Yes, Troy Polamalu's injury, suffered the first game of the season against the Tennessee Titans, had a sizable impact. While the Man with the Beautiful Hair did play again after the Titans game, he wasn't nearly as effective as last season. Nevertheless, the Steelers defense still ranked fifth in total yards surrendered, although, they did give up 20 points a game.

All told, this isn't the defense that propelled the Steelers to the Super Bowl last season. But missing the playoffs bad? Don't piss-poor showings against the Chiefs, Browns and Raiders -- teams NOT synonymous with offensive super powers -- deserve as much blame as the defense is getting? With a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, a receiving tandem of Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, a halfway decent running game with Rashard Mendenhall, a team like the Steelers should win at least ONE of those games; even if it takes a shootout to do so.

Surely such an offense can put up more than six points against the Cleveland Browns, right? Right?

Yes, teams like Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Tennessee and Chicago (among others) deserve scrutiny here as well, but I don't recall any of those potential playoff teams winning last season's Super Bowl, either. You can blame the Polamalu injury or you can blame an over-reliance on the passing game instead of going with Mendenhall more. Blame whatever you like. None of that, however, takes away from the fact that at 9-7, the Steelers were one win away from getting in the playoffs. Had they turned in something of a Steelers-worthy performance against the Chiefs, Browns, or Raiders -- you know, like they did with the Dolphins -- Woodley would have no reason to whine about the last-game-of-the-season habits of other teams.

Instead, they choked the defense of their title away to teams they were clearly superior to.

By Chris Richardson  |  January 4, 2010; 4:47 PM ET  | Category:  Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I totally agree...the arguments back home flip between the fans losing faith as the reason and players being uninspired. In my own opinion this core could have won and competed in the playoffs, even with the same players. After beating Denver, and facing two top level defenses at that time, Vikings and Broncos, yes, the sky was once again the limit. The cincinatti game when they got back from the bye was telling to me. Something happened during those two weeks leading up to the game. Steelers were talked about as being the best in the NFL at that time. They were getting national coverage, I've been able to watch every Steeler game here in Dallas this season, that was until they started losing. Point is, that team, the team I've known since I was little, only played well as underdogs. They weren't the pick last year for the super bowl, tennessee was. They perform when they aren't being talked about. I had a feeling this year they would sleep and the beginnings of this took shape in Chicago and that defensive offensive fiasco. The problems are many, but most of them mental. Last note, Ben saves this team...he does what he does without an offensive line, extends plays to the boiling point...there is magic on this team...but it resides with our QB. It's unfortunate, but that 2009 steeler team? wasted their moment. Harrison said the defensive statistics meant nothing without a super bowl victory last year. I think that same team had more to prove in defending that championship this year. You are all in your 30's, how often could you be in that position again? Very big disappointment here. Thanks for allowing a post... the season was over in Cincinatti after the bye...they gave up. It's sad, heartbreaking because you know they still got it..they just maybe reached that apex and said, what else are we fighting here for?

Posted by: craymorr2003 | January 4, 2010 10:54 PM

And I totally agree.....the arguments back home flip between the fans losing faith as the reason and players being uninspired. In my own opinion this core could have won and competed in the playoffs, even with the same players.

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Posted by: wwwjordans-cheapcom | January 5, 2010 9:17 AM

Good point. Whenever a team fails to perform to its potential, it makes me question the coach.

Posted by: roberthelm | January 5, 2010 10:07 PM

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