I declared it over prematurely a few weeks ago, but in the end I was right anyway. This post-Super Bowl = no playoffs pattern is a pretty bizarre one, but this is officially the third time the Steelers have pulled it off. (See also 2006 and 1980.)
The team felt out of Pittsburgh-style balance a lot this year – poor running performance in many games, and even stranger, poor defense. (Aaron Smith’s and Troy Polamalu’s injuries clearly played into that, but can’t explain all of the defense’s frequent fourth-quarter collapses.)
I’ll wait to see how things look in the off-season, but they have a lot of aging players these days, and that makes me nervous for 2010. Regardless, Pittsburgh sports don’t get much better than 2009, and now’s the time of year to become a full-time hockey fan again.