Story Finally Comes To End

Dale Lolley hung out in the press box until the bittersweet end of the Steelers' season was broadcast from San Diego. These are his notes:

I've got a secret for you. I don't root for the Steelers.

Sure, there are guys in the locker room that you like and like to see do well - it's no fun ripping somebody you like but it's part of the job - but overall, it doesn't matter to me one way or another whether the Steelers win or lose.

I have to admit, however, as Sunday afternoon's Kansas City-San Diego game wore on, I started rooting for the story. And the story was A. Kansas City, playing all of its backups, beating the Chargers to knock them out of the playoffs. And B. The Steelers finishing an improbable run and avoiding elimination week after week to make the playoffs.

Either would have been a great story. And even though the Kansas City-San Diego part of it wouldn't have been my story, it would have led to my story, so that was OK.

And then, as the Steelers found a way to do a number of times this season, the Chiefs snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

They had some help to be sure - thanks Ryan Succop, and you again, Bill Levy? - but that game was looking a lot like the Steelers rolling into Buffalo in 2004, resting starters and beating the Bills, who needed a win to reach the playoffs, and coming away with a 29-24 victory.

"We sat a bunch of guys one year when we went up to Buffalo and were able to get a win, so maybe that will happen," Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel mused following the Steelers' 20-7 win over Cleveland.

But it wasn't to be.

@ The Steelers have nobody to blame but themselves, though Succop and Levy, whose crew inexplicably blew a play dead in overtime on which Kansas City stripped San Diego safety Eric Weddle of the ball and returned it for a score, will certainly be hot topics on the local talk shows Monday.

But when you lose to Tennessee, Oakland and Minnesota, you don't deserve to make the playoffs. Heck, when you lose to Miami at home three weeks ago with your playoff hopes on the line, you don't deserve to advance to the postseason.

@ At least Steelers fans can take solace that the myth of Joe Flacco how now ended.

Same goes for John Harbaugh.

They finished third in the AFC North behind the Steelers.

Pittsburgh, by the way, will draft 15th this year. When they started their little three-game winning streak after falling to 5-8, they were 10th. So those three wins cost them five draft spots.

@ Bengals fans were rooting hard against Kansas City on Twitter Sunday afternoon. They knew their team wanted nothing to do with facing the Steelers a third time this season.

Now, they get to take their 8-0 home record into a game against the Chargers, who win games played in Eastern Standard Time about as often as Cleveland changes head coaches - you know, one per year.

@ If Le'Veon Bell runs all of next season like he did in the final month of this season, he'll rush for about 1,400 yards in 2014.

The spin move he put on Cleveland defensive lineman Billy Winn in the backfield on his 5-yard was Barry Sanders-esque, and he found a way to get skinny through some holes that he hadn't shown much of to this point.

He was tremendous.

@ I thought Chris Carter really played some inspired football coming off the edge on passing downs. And Jarvis Jones was very active in this game as well - as active as he had been all season.

When the Steelers re-sign Jason Worilds - and I believe they will re-sign Jason Worilds - the need to take another outside linebacker prospect early in the draft isn't as pressing as I would have thought going into this game.

They'll still take one because they do pretty much every year. It just doesn't have to be before the fifth round unless that's where the value is.

@ Cortez Allen, you've got to make that interception. Right through his hands.

@ Ike Taylor said after this game that he approached the coaching staff and raised the possibility of moving to safety next season.

It would be interesting to see how Taylor would play facing the line of scrimmage as opposed to having his back to things all the time. And his speed would be of value back there. But we all know his hands are suspect.

Perhaps that would change if he was able to see things developing facing the line of scrimmage. But I still think William Gay would be better suited at free safety.

Taylor recovered well after not having the pressure of facing the opposing team's top wide receiver every game to show me that he and Allen could still be the starting twosome in 2014.

Taylor will have to take a pay cut if he wants to come back next season, though.


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