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The Pittsburgh Steelers’ High-Scoring, Goalpost-Humping Machine Rolls On

After crushing the Colts, the only thing that can slow down Antonio Brown and Co. is a goalpost. Are the Steelers suddenly Super Bowl contenders?

Antonio Brown

Prime Time Player: The Steelers' Antonio Brown starred on Sunday night.

Joe Sargent/Getty

Four regular-season weeks to go, and the top of the AFC playoff standings has become beautifully bottlenecked. We don’t want to know who’s going to grab the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs a moment before we have to, do we? Not knowing such things is, after all, what makes the sporting world go ’round.

Two weeks ago, it seemed apparent that the AFC belonged to the New England Patriots, and that everyone else was flailing about in a meaningless dance for second place. So: Thank you, Patsies, for wetting yourselves in consecutive games – most recently, and in a stupendous surprise, against the craptastic Philadelphia Eagles – and making things ever so interesting in the process. The Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals are every bit as 10-2 as you are. You’re going to have to earn every inch of whatever happens from here.

There’s a sizable gap between the aforementioned trio of 10-2s and the AFC’s other “contenders” for the Super Bowl, who by conventional standards wouldn’t seem to have much chance of contending at all. Last season, the Patriots claimed the AFC’s No. 1 seed en route to the championship. The season before, the Seattle Seahawks took the crown as the NFC’s top seed. Now we have the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers milling about at 7-5. That’s supposed to worry the big boys?

Perhaps the Steelers should. They were spectacular Sunday night in a 45-10 obliteration of the Indianapolis Colts. They were forget-the-record good, outgaining the Colts 522 yards to 240 in a display that should’ve reminded everyone of the talent that exists on this squad. If there’s any doubt this team is capable of beating anybody, anywhere…well, it’s disappearing by the week.

Some of the numbers were so impressive, we have to dive into them for a while. Ben Roethlisberger, still crushing it in his 12th season in the league, completed 24 of 39 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. Antonio Brown snared eight balls for 118 yards and two touchdowns and ran a punt back 71 yards for another score. DeAngelo Williams, a lion of a running back at 32 years old, rushed for a dazzling 134. Thirty-seven-year-old linebacker James Harrison went off for three sacks. That’s four players who had “are you shitting me?” nights, and there were others.

Brown – as good a player as there is in the NFL – provided the highlight of the night at the conclusion of his glorious punt return, when he launched himself, for reasons understandable only to him, testicles-first into the thankfully padded goalpost stanchion.

“I was feeling the excitement,” he said, “trying to stick to the goalpost. It didn’t work out.”

Oddly, that was a perfect ending – and the final touchdown – in a game that had to be off-the-charts fun for the Steelers and their rabid fans and may have launched the whole lot of them at least in the broad direction of the Super Bowl. Two-time Super Bowl winner Roethlisberger, who has missed four games this season due to injury, again showed why he is an elite quarterback regardless of reputation. When he’s on the field, Pittsburgh’s offense is a monster. For sure, his presence makes this team go; he makes the Steelers as fun to watch as any team in the game.

“‘Have fun’ – that’s what we said in the locker room,” Roethlisberger said. “We wanted to get done with this game and [have] the world see how the Pittsburgh Steelers have fun when they play ball.”

From here, there will be every chance for the Steelers to falter – or to scare the daylights out of the rest of the AFC. They face the Bengals in Cincinnati next. After that, the Broncos visit. Things could break badly in a hurry. On the other hand, the Steelers, who have yet to win more than two in a row this season, could get hotter than holy hell and declare themselves ready to rock and roll toward the Super Bowl.

There are recent examples of teams that have done what Pittsburgh is aiming to do. The 2012 Baltimore Ravens had to go on the road and beat Manning’s Broncos and Brady’s Patriots to get to the Promised Land. The 2011 New York Giants went wild-card crazy after a 9-7 regular season. The 2005 Steelers, by the way, won it all as a wild card.

Let’s look at this another way. The Patriots are all banged up. Manning’s situation in Denver is completely up in the air. The Bengals tend to be useless come playoff time. Maybe there’s a window for another team. If there is, the Steelers seem likeliest to blast – testicles-first, if need be – right through it.

In This Article: Football, NFL, sports

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