8-8 here we come! Playoffs…

Not so much.

We’re amazingly still in with a chance of making the post-season, despite our 0-4 and 2-6 start to the season.  It will require losses on the part of the Dolphins (vs Jets), Ravens (vs Bengals who might rest some of their stars) and San Diego (vs Chiefs, ditto), but it is technically possible, if not likely.

What a great win over a Green Bay side that showed some real spirit despite being without their star in Aaron Rodgers.  Le’Veon Bell gave us his first 100 yard game – also our first 100 yard game since 1942 (ok, a slight exaggeration) – and Antonio Brown broke the franchise’s single season receiving yards record.  The D also came up big, forcing fumbles and even grabbing a pick-6.  Of course, it wasn’t perfect – what is in week 16 of the NFL season when everyone is on their last legs? – special teams had its highs (a fake punt thrown to Paulson for a nice first down pickup) and its lows (giving up 71 yards on the final return to put the Packers in great position to tie or even win the game) but we came out 7-8 and headed for the heady mediocrity of a .500 season.

Let’s talk for a second about the mind-numbingly awful game management that put us in a position to possibly lose the game.  Green Bay called its last timeout just before Bell’s late touchdown.  Bell broke the goal line with 1m25 remaining.  I don’t blame Bell, what else was he supposed to do?  Unless told to do otherwise, he’s going to break the line of scrimmage and run as far as he can.

Bell scored on a 2nd and 1.  If we took a knee, we could have let the clock run to roughly 45 seconds. Third down…take a delay of game, whatever.  Chip in the field goal and leave them the return and the return alone to try and get through.  Don’t give them 60% of a two minute drill – especially (and hindsight is a wonderful thing) when you can’t stop a return man in his own half of the field.

We were lucky that Green Bay didn’t score.  True, the referees would have owed us after that crazy blocked FG situation which resulted in a touchdown for the Packers, but still.

Tomlin has probably rallied the team enough to save his job.  Maybe even those of the coordinators (although I wonder about Haley’s value given his relationship with Ben).  We should not, however, forget that the team was underprepared for many games early this season.  Nor should we forget a few cases of just amateurish game management.

But first, let’s give the Browns a final doing before we start to think about anything else.


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