Tales From The Frozen Tundra

Dale Lolley is back from the Green Bay tundra with tales from a game that will be talked about for years to come. Here are Dale's thoughts:

"So you're saying we have a chance."

That was the overwhelming mantra in the Steelers' locker room following the team's 38-31 victory in the snow at Green Bay Sunday.

Some players admitted to watching what had been going on earlier in the day as things fell exactly how the Steelers needed to stay alive in the AFC wildcard race.

"Guys were whispering a little bit here and there," said guard Ramon Foster. "But we knew we had to handle this business here."

Others had no idea what was happening elsewhere.

"I didn't watch any of the other games," said linebacker Lawrence Timmons. "I haven't even checked my cell phone yet. I don't know what's going on, but it should be interesting."

Interesting indeed.

With Miami and Baltimore losing and the Jets winning Sunday, the Steelers got everything they needed to set up the possibility of getting into the playoffs as the AFC's sixth seed.

But there's still a lot that needs to happen.

Next weekend, the Steelers need to win, have the Jets to beat the Dolphins in Miami, the Bengals beat the Ravens in Cincinnati and the Chiefs to win at San Diego.

In that scenario, the Steelers are in.

Pittsburgh should beat Cleveland at home. That has the best odds of happening. And Cincinnati, which has scored 40 or more points in four consecutive home games, should handle Baltimore at Paul Brown Stadium.

But the other two? Those are a little more dicey.

The Dolphins played terrible Sunday in Buffalo, getting shut out by the Bills, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill was injured in the game, but the Jets have been terrible on the road this season.

And Kansas City is locked into the No. 5 seed in the AFC and has nothing to play for at San Diego. Head coach Andy Reid could choose to rest some key players - Jamaal Charles - to get ready for wildcard weekend.

But the fact that the Steelers, after starting 0-4 and 2-6, are still alive for a playoff spot in Week 17 is astounding.

@ The Steelers have now scored 27 or more points in six of their past eight games.

@ I had no problem with the way the Steelers handled their clock management at the end of the first half, but they bungled their final possession.

At the end of the first half, Emmanuel Sanders gave the Steelers great field position after Green Bay scored to go up 14-7.

Sanders returned the ensuing kickoff to the Green Bay 45, and on third-and-1 from the 23, Le'Veon Bell gained 10 yards on a run to the 13.

Instead of calling his remaining timeout or spiking the ball, Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Jerricho Cotchery to stop the clock with 16 seconds remaining. He then overthrew Antonio Brown in the back of the end zone on second down with six seconds remaining.

The Steelers decided to kick a field goal and cut the lead to 14-10, knowing they'd get the ball to open the second half.

Why save the timeout? If Roethlisberger is sacked on one of those plays, as we've seen happen all too often when the Steelers get down close, the clock runs out before they can get the field goal unit on the field.

As for the end of the game, I had no issue with the pass to Brown on second down with 1:45 remaining. He was open for a touchdown and Roethlisberger missed him.

But after Nick Perry jumped offside on a field goal attempt to give the Steelers a first down at the 5 and Bell carried to the 1 on first down, I would have had Roethlisberger take a knee on second down, then tried to score a touchdown on third down with Bell again.

Instead, the Steelers scored with 1:25 remaining.

Certainly, Tomlin didn't expect Green Bay to return the ensuing kickoff to the Pittsburgh 31 - with a touchdown-saving tackle by Shamarko Thomas - but the Steelers dodged a bullet by not running more time off the clock.

@ The game should never have been as close as it was.

If Green Bay doesn't get a gift touchdown following the blocked field goal debacle, the Steelers win that game going away.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

The momentum swing of stopping the Packers, who had first-and-goal from the 3 following Bell's first career fumble, on three point-blank shots and then blocking the field goal would have been tough for Green Bay to overcome.

Instead, the Packers got a gift touchdown.

@ If the officials cannot review whether Ryan Clark had possession of the football, as they told Tomlin, then nothing should be replayed any more. Just do away with it.

@ Speaking of Clark. He should know better than to attempt to lateral the ball in that situation.

You just got a big stop. Be happy with that.

I don't blame Ziggy Hood for knocking that ball out of bounds. Given what we saw happen afterward, had a Green Bay player picked the loose ball up and ran it into the end zone, Carl Cheffers' crew might have awarded the Packers a touchdown.

@ Bell had the kind of game in the snow that the Steelers needed out of their rookie running back.

His 124-yard effort was Pittsburgh's first 100-yard game in 17 games. And the Steelers ran for 151 yards in the snow. Yes, Green Bay's defense is bad, but 100 yards in the NFL is still 100 yards.

@ That was one gutsy call by Tomlin and special teams coach Danny Smith to have punter Mat McBriar throw a pass on fourth-and-2 from their own 44 in the conditions the game was played in Sunday.

McBriar had only thrown one other pass in his career, on a field goal attempt, that he didn't complete.

His first option was the back out of the backfield, but that was covered. As he rolled to his right, he lofty a wobbly pass that David Paulson ran under for a 30-yard gain.

"I had a few options," said McBriar. "I'm glad I went with the one I did."

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