By Alan Robinson
So were the Steelers a playoff team?
There appears to be a difference in opinion even within the organization.
If the Steelers kick the field goal at the end of the Bengals game on Dec. 23, instead of the other way around, they almost certainly would have traveled to Houston during the wild card weekend. That defeat was one of five by a 3-point margin, including one to the AFC finalist Ravens.
Based on what general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday, the Steelers are what they are — an 8-8 team that wasn’t good enough, one that was deficient in multiple areas and might require an offseason facelift.
“They’re playing and we’re not,” Colbert said, a reference to the four teams still chasing the Lombardi Trophy. ” I don’t want to say we’re close. I’m more disappointed, disappointed in myself that those 61 players were 8-8.
“Are we close to those teams? We haven’t played since first week of January and they have. The reality is we’re 8-8,” he added.
Last week, team president Art Rooney II had a slightly different take –in his mind, the Steelers were a playoff team, were comparable to many in the field and could have done damage in the playoffs.
“When you sit here and look at the teams in the playoffs, we feel like we can play with those guys,” Rooney said. “You sit here and you feel like if we had gotten into the playoffs we could have been on the same field with these teams and been competitive. I still feel like we’re a team that’s capable of being in the playoffs. That’s what we’re shooting for and I think the attitude around the building is that we’ve got to do everything we can to utilize this offseason in a way that gets us ready for next season. Most of our players are saying the right things. They’re not going to waste this offseason, they are going to work hard and get ready.”
To Rooney, the question is to find out why the Steelers didn’t get there, then make the proper adjustments and corrections in advance of the 2013 season.
Here’s a note to file away for the future: The Steelers haven’t missed the playoffs in successive seasons since 1999-2000 (during a three-season absence from 1998-2000).