The ones that got away

Regrets, they have a few.

After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013, they aren’t too few to mention.

“Yeah, there was more than just a couple,” guard David DeCastro acknowledged today, the first day of the offseason for the Steelers. “Denver, Oakland, games like that, Los Angeles was close. There were some we definitely should have won but a couple plays here and there, that’s all it takes in the NFL and you never know when they’re coming.

“It was just a tough stretch in the last half of the season, that’s for sure.”

The Steelers appeared well on their way to qualifying for the postseason when they reeled off a six-game winning streak from Oct. 7 through Nov. 18 that improved their overall record to 7-2-1. But they were only able to win two of their final six games and ended up 9-6-1.

Included in their limp to the finish were road losses to the Broncos (who finished 6-10) and the Raiders (4-12).

There was also a 33-30 loss to the Chargers on Dec. 2 at Heinz Field, a game in which the Steelers had led 23-7 at halftime.

The Ravens won the AFC North Division championship at 10-6.

The AFC’s two wild card entrants into the playoffs are the Chargers (12-4) and the Colts (10-6).

“The Chargers, we’re up double-digits in the second half and we let that one slip away,” cornerback Mike Hilton said. “It kind of got to us mentally.

“We felt like if we close that game out it’s a different type of situation.”

The Steelers lost to the Raiders the week after they lost to the Chargers.

They also failed to put the Browns away in the opener when Cleveland was coming off of a winless 2017 season.

The Steelers led 21-7 midway through the fourth quarter but ultimately settled for a 21-21 tie.

“The first one, at Cleveland, just because it’s the first game of the year still sticks in your mind,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger offered in the immediate aftermath of the Steelers’ 16-13 win over Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon in the regular-season finale. “And then at Denver, because I feel like that’s on me more than anything.”

A Roethlisberger pass for wide receiver Antonio Brown was intercepted in the end zone on third-and-goal from the Broncos’ 2-yard line with 1:07 left in regulation and the Steelers trailing, 24-17, on Nov. 25 in Denver.

“You just don’t want to lose any games,” rookie safety Terrell Edmunds said. “So every game that we lost I’d definitely say that we wish we could have had that game back. We lost some tough games. We lost some games that we shouldn’t have lost.

“Can’t do anything about it now.”

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