The Steelers didn't have the best of years. No, they had a troublesome year. The loss of Plaxico Burress actually did hurt the team earlier on. Big Ben's injuries made me remember Kordell Stewart's biggest strength at quarterback -- durability -- and the thought entered my mind that Big Ben might not be healthy enough to take the team far. That Turnover Tommy nearly took us out of the playoff equation entirely. And after the Indianapolis loss, I was certain that the Steelers wouldn't make it past the second round.
The funny thing is that the Steelers got better.
In the Cincy game, the old Steelers would have whithered and given up after Kitna burned the defense. In fact that's pretty much how they lost to the Colts on MNF. But they didn't fold. They fought and won. There's a toughness in this team that was brought to the forefront by all the adversity they faced mid-season. So in a sense, I have to thank the people and organizations who gave the Steelers a hard time. Even Tommy Maddox helped by showing us the vision of what could come to pass. At the same time, there are people like Charlie Batch who will get overlooked, even though under his direction, he brought out the cohesion and talent in the offense that had been missing in prior weeks. I also have to thank all the people who have been on the practice squad at various times during the season -- you can't be a good team without good practices. Here's hoping someone recognizes Rod Rutherford as the shining star he could be by giving him a roster spot.
I will be the first to admit the Steelers did not play their best football against the Seahawks. Between Indianapolis and Denver, the defense, offense and special teams played absoultely wonderfully. But tonight they played well enough to win. And, okay, they did have a little help from the refs (Sorry, Ben, but I don't think that was a touchdown), but the thing is the Steelers are the champions.
It's good not for the players or the fans, but the coach as well. Cowher has been criticized in local media and by vocal fans over the years for not winning a Super Bowl, despite his tremedous record as head coach. He was supposed to choke, and I expected the team to disappoint as well. I mean after all the years of trying and not succeeding, he was judged because he didn't produce the one thing they wanted.
And now he's done it, along with the players. And there is a lesson to be learned. It means that despite the talent and statistical "superiority" of other teams, sometimes you win not by being good but by being persistent. Sure if you've got talent it'll take you far, but without the experience you end up like the Bengals. Without the adversity you end up like the Colts -- or the Steelers in the 2004 season. Without the hunger of not having a championship (for a while, anyway) you end up eaten up by entitlement like New England. In short, if you keep trying and trying, eventually you will succeed. It won't be pretty. You might not flow, but yeah, you get there.
That's how they for the one for the thumb. Not just by being good, but even when the other teams looked more talented and people like me doubted them, they said they weren't going to let themselves get beaten down. It was them against the world...and they won.
World - Zero
Steelers - One...for the thumb!