Steelers win AFC North, end losing streak


Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

JuJu Smith-Schuster playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game against the Cleveland Browns in 2019.

Jake Peters, Staff Writer

Sunday’s game against the Colts couldn’t have been more dramatic. Trailing by fourteen at the half, the Steelers were looking sluggish. However, the Steelers were able to pick it up in the second half and finish off strong.

Ben Roethlisberger turned his slow start into a promising finish, where he threw three touchdowns to win the game for the Steelers.  Starting with Diontae Johnson and his 39-yard touchdown grab, the Steelers clinched the win with JuJu’s 25-yard go-ahead touchdown.

 The defense finished the game off by forcing the Colts to turnover the ball on downs. 

Shortly after, the Steelers were crowned the new AFC North Champions to knockoff the reigning champions, the Ravens, who won the title the past two years.

Now, what does this mean for the Steelers heading into Week 17? Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday that he will be resting Ben and multiple others who are not yet named in order to get ready for a playoff run. 

The Steelers, unfortunately, got their bye taken away from them due to a game cancellation in Week 4 because of COVID-19 concerns. This forced them to play the entire regular season without an official bye week.  

Now that the Steelers have clinched a playoff spot, along with at least the No. 3 seed, they don’t have any motives to risk injuries this game. They cannot change their seeding with a win or a loss, but a loss by the Buffalo Bills to the Dolphins will move them up to the No. 2 seed.  

This means that Mason Rudolph instead will be getting the start against Cleveland. Mason, who is in his second year in the NFL, went 5-3 as a starter for the Steelers last year when they needed him after Big Ben went down with elbow surgery. 

When the Steelers faced off against the Browns in Cleveland, it was Rudolph who made the start. The Steelers lost that game 21-7, where many remember the infamous play where Myles Garrett ended up ripping off Mason’s helmet and hitting him with it before being suspended for the rest of that season.

The decision to sit Ben and play backups is a great spot to be in before the playoffs. Many teams do not have the luxury to sit star players entering Week 17 because they are still fighting for playoff spots. 

Mike Tomlin said in his weekly news conference on Tuesday: “It’s a blessing to be in these circumstances and make these types of decisions. Make no mistake about it, it does not change our intentions. Football is our game. Our job is winning. We intend to do our job.”

The blessing Coach Tomlin was referring to is being in the position to sit some of your best players before a playoff run. 

Now, the Steelers will be locked into a Wild Card round matchup on the first weekend following the new year.

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