Prisuta's Fourth & Goal:

It makes no sense, which makes perfect sense. These same Steelers, who somehow managed to lose to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland this season, beat Green Bay on Sunday ...

... adding the Packers to a list of victims that also includes two other teams that rank among the NFL's best, San Diego and Minnesota.

They did so on one of those not-to-be-denied drives that sometimes defines a champion, the way one did on February in Tampa.

This one defined no such thing, and shed no more light on what the '09 Steelers are really all about than games against the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns had.

"This is a crazy league, it really is," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.

It was absolute bedlam on the floor of Heinz Field on Sunday evening.

Roethlisberger and offensive tackle Willie Colon actually had to motion for quiet after a third-down completion to tight end Heath Miller had advanced the ball to the Packers' 36 during what became the game-winning drive.

Why were the fans so excited?

And why wasn't the supposedly knowledgeable home crowd cognizant of the offense's need for quiet right about then?

After Jeff Reed's no-time-remaining extra point split the uprights the kicker jumped into the arms of guard Trai Essex. But the holder, Daniel Sepulveda, rushed to the aid of long-snapper Greg Warren, who had remained down on the turf. Warren (ACL) had to be helped off the field by trainer John Norwig and his assistant, Ryan Grove, while most of the rest of the Steelers celebrated as if something special had been achieved.

Later Colon had to be helped off the field by Essex; it was impossible to tell at the time if Colon was injured or simply overcome with emotion (apparently it was the latter).

One of the last to leave was Roethlisberger, who jogged toward the entrance to the locker room, glanced up at the scoreboard one final time and shook his head with a Mona Lisa smile on his face.

If there's any sense to be made of all that transpired against Green Bay and all the Steelers have been through this season, it has escaped defensive end Brett Keisel's ability to recognize it.

"I wish I could," Keisel said. "I really wish I could."

For a game at least, the blueprint was what you'd have expected all along for a team playing without Troy Polamalu.

The defense was vulnerable enough against one of the NFL's best passers that head coach Mike Tomlin opted for a surprise onside kick with a two-point lead and 3:58 left in the fourth quarter.

The offense was explosive enough to open the game with a 60-yard bomb and resilient enough to close it with a 19-yard prayer, those two plays accounting for 79 of Roethlisberger's absurd 503 yards passing.

"I thought (Steelers OC) Bruce Arians did a hell of a job," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy offered. "I thought they called an extremely aggressive game."

Even from McCarthy's losing perspective what took place had been "classic December football."

But the Steelers' reward was a mere evening of their record at 7-7.

And in the wake of Week 15 losses by Jacksonville, the New York Football Jets, Miami and Denver, the Steelers still sit 10th in the AFC playoff chase, just as they had before mastering the Packers.

So what does it all mean, really?

"Good to win one for our fans," head coach Mike Tomlin said. "I'm just as excited about that as I am getting that five-week monkey off our back."

The monkey's gone, which is something.

But the odds remain long.

The Steelers' refusal to acknowledge them and succumb to them in a game that offered ample opportunity to do so right up until the final play tells us a little something about who they are if not what they are or are not capable of accomplishing together during a season that long ago spun out of control.

"To win it like that, I think it shows a lot of heart and it opens up something inside of all of us," Roethlisberger said. "We don't quit. That's kind of a Pittsburgh mentality. We don't quit no matter what."

So there you have it.

The 2009 Steelers: A Team with a Pittsburgh Mentality.

Lacking a more definitive description, that's as fitting a characterization as any.


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