You'd think after a game like yesterday's - wherein the Steelers dropped 41 points and finally clinched the division - writing a recap would be simple.
But, where do I even begin?
Well, for one thing - I'd say the Steelers raped the Browns, but from where I was sitting, it looked an awful lot like the Browns were consenting.
How about - remember back to last offseason, if it doesn't pain you too much. All the bullshit with Ben, the Ravens and Bengals loading up with offensive talent, Willie Colon going down for the year...so many people were crying about the Steelers prospects in 2010.
And yet, after 17 weeks, the Steelers ended up 12-4 in spite of all of it.
The defense was absolutely cuthroat this year, though I'm sure you didn't need me to remind you of that.
When the regular season was all said and done, they were second in total defense, giving up 276.8 yards per game, and tops in points allowed - giving up a disgustingly low 14.9 per game.
They allowed the least rushing yards of any defense in STEELER HISTORY (1004 - and they did it having to play four more games than the previous top performers), and the least yards per game in the league this season (64.1).
They allowed only ONE run of longer than 20 yards, and only two teams to rush for over 100 total yards against them on the season.
All while missing Aaron Smith for the last 10 games, and Brett Keisel for five here and there.
They had 21 INTs on the year - with every starting defensive back having at least two - which is the most since they had 23 during the '96 season, AND, they forced 28 fumbles (24 if you believe NFL.com over ESPN.com...but I prefer 28, so).
They had the most sacks in the league as a team (48), and those sacks came from 15 different guys - including backup CB Anthony Madison, yesterday.
And, of course, THREE out of their four starting linebackers ended up with 100 tackles or more...Lawrence Timmons leading the way with 135, captain James Farrior behind him with 109, and James Harrison - who also had 10.5 sacks - third with exactly 100.
Basically, they were one of the most dominant defenses the league has EVER seen, and as far as I'm concerned, with the rule changes to "protect" the offense, and guys getting bigger and stronger with every new draft class, it gets harder and harder to play that kind of suffocating defense year after year.
But the offense wasn't exactly useless this season either.
We'll get into some of the details in the "Things That Were Awesome" below, but how about...
Rashard Mendenhall finished seventh overall in rushing yards with 1273 (topping his 2009 self's 1108 yard season), and second in rushing TDs with 13 (almost doubling his total from 2009).
Hines Ward - whose contributions might be somewhat overlooked in the season of Mike Wallace - had 59 catches for 755 yards and five TDs, and somehow managed 14 catches of 20 yards or more.
ROOKIES Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown had 28 and 16 catches for 376 and 167 yards respectively.
And Heath Miller still managed to get 42 catches for 512 yards and two TDs despite the fact that just about everyone else who was eligible to catch a pass this season did.
Even more importantly, though, over the last three games, since the stretch of however many quarters they had without an offensive TD (from inside the red zone, that is), they've put up 85 points (granted, 80% of those were against the Panthers and Browns), including 10 touchdowns.
What I think I'm trying to say is what I'm sure you've all been thinking - the Steelers have roared their way into the playoffs, winning six out of their last seven (and it should've been seven out of seven if not for Matt Spaeth), and generally looking the best they've looked all year.
So, hey, we don't know who we're going to play, and we don't know what's going to happen in the coming weeks, but to enjoy all of this success a year after missing the playoffs despite a 9-7 record, how good does it feel to be a Steeler fan?
Last January, I'd guess that about 85% of Steeler nation was in mutiny mode.
Now, I'll bet it's as strong as ever.
And we wouldn't have it any other way.
So, with that all said, let's get right down to it.
Below are this week's "Things That Were Awesome," "Things That Were NOT Awesome," and "Things That Were Slightly Less Awesome Than The Things That Were Not Awesome."
As usual, I invite you to peruse them at your leisure and dammit, add your own in the comments!
41 points, FIVE TDs (all offensive), 24 first downs, 8/13 on 3rd down, over 400 total offensive yards, only THREE penalties, 4/5 in the red zone (but points off all trips)...
And that's with the JV team in for almost half the game!
Plus, Troy picks Colt McCoy on the 2nd play of the game - the first of THREE INTs McCoy threw - and then, on the next play - the Steelers' first offensive play of the game...
56 yards, to set the Steelers record for most 40+ yd touchdown hookups between a QB and a WR!
Pretty sure there are few ways today's game could've gone any better.
So, the 2 seed and an extra week to rest Troy, Aaron Smith and our outside voices, to get ready for either KC - who lost to OAKLAND today, Baltimore - who should've lost to Cincy if Carson Palmer wasn't a slow adult, or Indy.
Full, sure-to-be-epic recap to come.
Until then, feel free to share your excitement for the division champs in the comments.
Who am I kidding, it's New Year's Eve day, the Winter Classic is tomorrow, and we're playing the Browns.
I'd love to be proven wrong, but I'm willing to bet about three people are going to read this post.
Nevertheless, I don't believe I've missed a preview yet this season and I'm not about to start this week, when the Steelers are playing perhaps the most important game of the whole season. So all three of you, strap yourselves in for a ride, because here we go...
The Browns have been, shockingly, very Browns-like this season. They've definitely had some bright spots, and I'll get around to highlighting those below, but let's face it, unless you play in the NFC West, 5-10 isn't exactly impressing anybody.
Neither is ranking in the bottom half of the league in three out of four categories.
The last time we played the Browns they were a 1-4 team, starting a rookie QB for the first time. IE - shit was pretty bleak. But since that time, they've won four out of their last 10, beating two teams the Steelers did not - the Patriots and Saints - and two teams the Steelers did - the Panthers and Dolphins, while losing to the Jets, Jagoffs, Jills, Bangles and most recently, the Gayvens.
Obviously they've hit a skid over the last few weeks, but even those losses to New York and Jagoffville were only one score losses, and at least they took the Jets to OT, which is something that can't be said for the Steelers (FYI - they let the Jags score 14 points in four minutes, which is how the Jags ended up winning despite SIX turnovers).
Of course, if John Kasay wasn't 800 years old and had hit the game-winning field goal he had a shot at hitting, the Browns would've also lost to the Panthers (PS - Jim Clausen drove the Panthers 71 yards - almost as many yards as he had against the Steelers in four quarters - in less than a minute to set it up), and the only reason they beat the Dolphins was because they picked off Chad Henne in the final minute and returned the pick to the Dolphins 2, setting up a 23 yard field goal for Phil Dawson.
Basically, I guess you could say it's been an up and down season for the Browns, with extra emphasis on the down.
Last week, they had a chance to have an impact on this year's NFL season, when they could have kept the Ravens out of the playoffs with a win. Instead, they went out and turned the ball over four times at home.
This week - as has been beaten into the ground by anyone with a keyboard - they have another chance to impact this year's NFL in that they could keep the Steelers from winning the AFC North and drop them from 2 to 5 or 6 in the playoff seeding - which, as you can see, apparently means a ruined season to the Associated Press.
I'd hate to hear how a team like the Panthers feels about making that statement about an assured playoff team.
Anyway, there is no room for jaggin' around this week; sense of urgency is high. We all know what's at stake, and so do the Steelers. That's why I'm sticking with Van Halen again - both because it works, and also because Van Halen is awesome...