Over too soon

It wasn't what they had hoped today would be like. Not even close.

The hope Steelers players had for today was the same hope we all had, that it would be a day preparing for the postseason.

Instead, it was just the opposite. A day of preparing for the offseason.

"It's hard," said Diontae Johnson. "If we had won last week, we wouldn't be in this position. It's tough. It's football. We have to come back next year better than ever."

On Monday the Steelers held their final team meeting, cleaned out some things from their lockers, and said some goodbyes knowing the locker room they walked out of today won't be the same locker room they arrive back to for OTAs, with some names and faces undoubtedly changing.

"It's very disappointing," said Steven Nelson. "You don't expect the season to end like this, especially with the amount of talent, type of guys we have on our team. As everybody knows, this team has taken a ton of losses all year and we still fought all the way until the end. Unfortunately, we didn't get the type of outcome that we wanted. We are going to take that with a grain of salt and go into the offseason and try to improve."

The losses Nelson was referring to were injuries, and it all kicked off when the team lost their franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was placed on the reserve/injured last back on Sept. 16. And that was just the start of a season marred by injury after injury.

"It was a rollercoaster losing a franchise quarterback," said Joe Haden. "At the same time look at our defense. I try to look at the positives. We have a great, great group. A really, really talented group. We feel like we can be the No. 1 defense in the league. Going forward I feel like it's very positive."

The Steelers finished the season 8-8, after sitting at 8-5 with the hope of making the postseason and in control of their playoff hopes. But losing three in a row left them disappointed and heading into the offseason earlier than planned.

"No matter which way you put it, it sucks," said T.J. Watt. "We hit a stretch where we were rolling and all of a sudden we lost the last three. Defensively I am very proud of a lot of things we were able to do this year. I think we really took a step in the right direction as far as takeaways and playing well together as a unit. It wasn't enough so back to the drawing board."

The bad part is, they will have to wait awhile until they go back to that drawing board.

"Anytime you play the last game of the season it's always disappointing because we love the game so much," said Devlin Hodges. "It's definitely disappointing. You don't want to go home early. But we have a lot to work on."