After further review: In the eye of the beholder

After further review …

In the end they were who they've been all along.

"Man, we've got a lot of warts," head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged after Sunday afternoon's 16-13, come-from-behind, overtime survival of the Ravens.

By now those warts are undeniable.

But so is the Steelers' determination to work around them, or through them if necessary.

That may sound cliched but it was good enough, along with just enough help from the Jaguars and the Raiders, to deliver the Steelers into the playoffs.

And to turn some of those warts into beauty marks.

Consider …

The Steelers were the beneficiaries of a fumble recovery off an aborted snap, an interception and a failed fake punt, all in the first 16 minutes of the game, and managed to turn all of that good fortune and good field position into three points.

They gained 82 yards and moved the chains on one third down on seven possessions in the first half, not counting the one-play series that ended the second quarter by taking a knee.

They false-started on fourth-and-1 from the Ravens' 5-yard line in the first quarter and on first-and-goal from the Ravens' 4 in the fourth quarter.

They allowed a season-high 249 yards rushing, including a 46-yard touchdown run up the gut and 72 yards on 12 carries by a quarterback who's more likely to beat you with his legs than his arm.

They failed to convert a third-and-4 in the last minute of regulation after completing a pass, a development which "disgusted" Tomlin.

And yet in the fourth quarter they stuffed a third-and-2 carry by the running back who ended up gashing them for 150 yards.

Then they cobbled together a 10-play, 50-yard drive for the go-ahead touchdown, a 6-yard reception by Chase Claypool that occurred, Claypool revealed, on a play designed to go elsewhere but didn't due to a missed audible.

Then they came up with another stop after losing the coin toss in overtime.

And finally, they converted a third-and-7, a third-and-9 and a fourth-and-8 during what became the defining drive of the season, a 15-play, 65-yard march in 4:28 for the game-winning field goal.

Ben Roethlisberger had an immense impact on the Steelers' stealing yet another game that seemed to be slipping away.

But so did some of the youngsters who faced adversity for whatever reason in Baltimore and have throughout this season and haven't blinked.

Tomlin cited Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth and Ray-Ray McCloud initially, and subsequently mentioned Claypool and John Leglue.

"It's all of them," Tomlin eventually concluded. "The growth and development of these young guys throughout the journey and the negativity that's usually associated with growth and development did not take away from their efforts."

Nothing got in the way of the veterans' efforts against the Ravens, either, flawed as those may have been at times.

"It shows something about this team," Roethlisberger insisted, "that you can continue to fight and never give up."

That's sounds cliched, as well.

But there's also real value in a team establishing that type of belief in one another and in their collective capability no matter the circumstances.

Don't look now, but the Steelers may have finally stumbled upon that identity they've been seeking all season.

There are worse things to be bringing to Kansas City.