JAY DAVIS: So close, but yet so far away

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If you are a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and I know there are quite a few of you right here in the Bridge City, yesterday must have been almost terrifying.

Back when the Steelers were 0-4 and had just been beaten by the Vikings in London, no one thought they would ever be a team even in the mix for playoff contentions this year (and that includes you Steeler fans who are honest about your feelings).

But a funny thing happened. As the Steelers went 8-4 over the last 12 games, the rest of the league’s second tier teams all lost just enough to make things very interesting.

So along comes the last Sunday of the regular season and here sit the Steelers at 7-8. They need to beat the Cleveland Browns and have a bunch of dominoes fall into place. They need the Bengals to beat the Ravens in Cincinnati, the Jets to beat the Dolphins in Miami and the Chargers to beat the Chiefs in San Diego. The Ravens, Dolphins and Chargers all entered Sunday at 8-7, but losses would give the Steelers the tiebreaker against each one of them.

The Steelers took care of their part of the bargain, beating the Browns 20-7. And then the Jets took over in the second half and beat the Dolphins. And then the Bengals took over in the fourth quarter and beat the Ravens.

The only thing left was for the Chiefs to do their part. It looked for a while like the miracle Sunday the Steelers needed was going to happen. It was like a belated Christmas present was unfolding itself right before their very eyes. But then the Chargers scored 10 straight points in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 24-24. It wasn’t over yet; Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop had a chance to end the game from 42 yards away, but no! The kick was just right. Then, of course the Chargers kicked a field goal in overtime and stopped the Chiefs on the ensuing drive.

That late Christmas present refolded its wrapper and retied its bow. What was so far away had become so close, but then it drifted away.

Oh well, Steelers fans. You could be Bears or Cowboys fans today.

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