Shortly after Sunday’s game ended I made the comment that I was trying to balance the disappointment of the loss and the excitement of getting to see the Steelers play in another championship game.
My dad made the point that winning or losing the Super Bowl is just one game. One game. That’s it.
What makes that one game worth it (or not worth it) is everything the team had to do to get to that one game. If you win that one game? It validates everything. It makes it all worth it. Minicamp, training camp, preseason, regular season, playoffs. All of it.
When you lose? It makes you realize just how much had to be done, how far the team had to go, everything it had to overcome … and the realization that now you have to start over and go through it all over again just to get another opportunity like that.
And in the end, that, I think, is what makes you realize, “shit … now it’s over and it’s back to square one.” The only issue now, of course, is we don’t know when the journey starts over (thanks, Roger and DeMaurice!)
Ryan is correct when he says there are no moral victories, and the Steelers let one slip away that was certainly there for the taking. To sit here and break down every single thing that went wrong and how it could have been different will drive you insane. But, hey, that’s what we do, and to keep doing it over and over again we have to be a little nuts.
Still, even though there are no moral victories it’s important to keep in mind that over the past seven years Pittsburgh fans have been as lucky — if not luckier — than any other group of sports fans in the country. Over that time we’ve had the opportunity to see four AFC Championship Games, three Super Bowls, Two Stanley Cup Finals, and come out of that stretch with three championships (so far). That’s nothing to take for granted. Most cities have to wait decades for that sort of success, assuming they ever get that much. And it’s something that can never be taken away.
The Steelers reached a point this year few felt possible before the season, and did so by overcoming just about everything that could go wrong. Starting third and fourth string quarterbacks at the beginning of the season, a revolving door of offensive linemen due to a never-ending string of injuries, no Aaron Smith for most of the season, no Brett Keisel for five games, no Troy Polamalu for a stretch.
And there they were, still with a shot to win it all in the final two minutes. That’s all you can ask for. It just didn’t work out this time.