It wasn’t the way they had hoped to ring in the New Year.
Not by a long shot.
A month ago, the Steelers plan for this week was to be preparing for a playoff game. Not preparing for a long offseason.
“At the end of the day we are still wanting more,” said Jon Bostic. “We have to do better. We failed sometimes this year. We put ourselves in some bad places, and now we are paying for it.”
On Monday the Steelers held their final team meeting, a day of goodbyes, making sure guys had each other’s phone numbers, and making plans to meet up in the offseason.
“This is not what anyone wanted on this team,” said Vance McDonald. “It is what it is. We needed to do a couple of things in some of those other games that we needed to pull out and win to be in a better position to make the playoffs and continue our journey. It didn’t happen.
“It was definitely different the way it ended, with 60,000 people watching the television screen. It’s kind of unique in the fact that it is our responsibility, but it isn’t because we lost that last game. It’s kind of a different emotion. The last 16 games it was up to us to get the job done and we didn’t do it enough. Here we are.”
Where the Steelers are today is everywhere. Some players have already headed home for the offseason. Others will be taking care of business in Pittsburgh this week before they head out of town for a while.
“It didn’t work out in our favor,” said Mike Hilton. “It hurts. It’s part of the game. We have to move on. It’s going to dwell on us for a little bit. We are one of the more talented teams in the league. We feel like we should be in the playoffs. We let some games slip away that cost us in the end and that hurt us. We have to find ways to close out. We have to find ways to win games.
“It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating a team of this caliber we should be in this situation. We have to do things to put us in better position next year.”
Quick Hits: Some locker room leftovers.
“I think he showed that this year. I think he really did.” – David DeCastro on if James Conner can be the Steelers’ feature back in the future
“I am relay happy with the Steelers. I really like being here. We will figure it out when it comes.” – Joe Haden, who has one year left on his contract, on the potential of doing an extension