The season ended earlier for the Pittsburgh Steelers sooner than anyone would have imagined and all three phases of the team - offense, defense and special teams - were to blame at one time or another.
In other words, this season was a total team effort.
The funny thing is, in Sunday's 30-24 win over the Miami Dolphins, we saw a little bit of everything that was good about this team.
And it made you wonder where has this has been the past month and a half?
The offense put 30 points on the board and effectively ran the clock out at the end of the game with a 14-play, 83-yard field goal drive. The Steelers threw for 200 yards and rushed for 200.
The defense had three - count ‘em - three interceptions, including the first two by cornerbacks this season.
And the special teams put forth a winning effort as Stefan Logan averaged 20.5 yards on punt returns and 27.7 on kickoffs and the coverage units were solid.
Again, where was this all season?
That said, there were still some of the old problems, particularly in the fourth quarter when Miami finally started attacking downfield and the crowd got into the game, making things difficult on the offense.
© If that was the final game Willie Parker played in a Steelers uniform, he went out the right way, carrying this team on his back.
There have been those who have doubted Parker in the past, saying he's not the kind of back who can carry this offense.
But Miami was loaded up to stop the run on that 83-yard drive and Parker just kept banging in there, gaining positive yards.
Parker said after the game that he still continues himself starting material and that, though he'd love to return to Pittsburgh and appreciates the opportunities the Steelers gave him, he'll likely be elsewhere in 2010.
Rashard Mendenhall should have been watching that final series. That's how you close out a game.
Mendenhall had a thigh injury, causing Mike Tomlin to go with Parker on that final series. But Mendenhall wasn't getting it done in the second half after suffering the injury on a 26-yard screen play in the second quarter.
© And what about that screen play?
In fact, Bruce Arians called an outstanding game Sunday, controlling the clock, hitting big plays and putting points on the board.
The Santonio Holmes' throwback pass was a little much, but they've been saving it all season long and probably figured there was no reason to save it.
The more I think about it, the more I don't see Arians being fired.
© If the Steelers can get LaMarr Woodley to play in the first half of a season as he does in the second half, he could be the best defensive player in the NFL.
Then again, even when the Dolphins tried to double team him, they did so with a running back and tight end. That's just not very smart.
© Speaking of not very smart, I thought the Dolphins were supposed to be well-coached. Three different times they had to run a gunner onto the field just moments before a ball was snapped on a special teams play.
And another time, they had to call a timeout with the Steelers inside the 10 because they only had 10 men on the field.
That's not good coaching in my book.
© I expect to see at least 15 to 20 new faces with this team next season, but I don't know how many of those new faces will be starters.
A new free safety is a strong possibility and though he's one of the most respected players in the locker room, if I were in charge, James Farrior would have a lesser role - if he's not on the bench.
I think the team will put the franchise tag on nose tackle Casey Hampton and try to draft his successor. And finding a new starting right tackle could also be a possibility, be it in the draft or elsewhere.
Retooling the roster has to start from the bottom up, not the top down. As we saw this season, too many backups were not ready to contribute when called upon.
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.