The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the biggest disappointments of 2018, unraveling big-time in the second half to finish the season at 9-6-1 - thus missing the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Pittsburgh took care of business at home against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but their playoff hopes were shattered when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Cleveland Browns to look up the AFC North.
After a 7-2-1 start, the Steelers managed to lose four of their final six games - all in heartbreaking fashion. And though some of Pittsburgh's core players are getting up there in age, Ben Roethlisberger doesn't think 2018 marked the final chance for this group to win.
"We’ve got guys that just got better," Roethlisberger said, via Chase Williams of WPXI. "We’ve got young guys who just kept getting better — guys like JuJu (Smith-Schuster), and I think James Conner. Guys that are just going to keep getting better. So I don’t think our window’s closed."
Roethlisberger turns 37 this offseason, but after leading the league with 5,129 passing yards, it's safe to say that he's far from reaching the end of his prime years. Antonio Brown will be 31, but the the Pro Bowl wideout has also showed zero signs of slowing down.
As Roethlisberger pointed out, Smith-Schuster and Conner are bound to get better. Throw in pass rushing phenom T.J. Watt, and there's a great mix of veteran and youth talent here.
The Steelers will be disappointed about missing the playoffs despite a promising start, but it was just a season full of uncharacteristic mistakes. There's simply no way they can be this mediocre in 2019, given their roster talent and winning culture.
What This Means
Despite a "down" season, the Steelers finished 9-6-1 and were oh-so-close to squeaking in. With a couple of tweaks to the roster and/or coaching staff in the offseason, Pittsburgh should be set up nicely for another run at the Super Bowl in 2019.