The Steelers came in needing not only to win, but also needing the Dolphins, Ravens and Chargers to lose in order to sneak into the last AFC wild card spot. They got three of those four, but San Diego won in overtime against the Chiefs to clinch a postseason berth.
Despite the disappointment of an 8-8 season, Steelers fans have plenty to be optimistic about moving forward, particularly the play of Ben Roethlisberger. Here's Steelers blog Behind the Steel Curtain on the leadership the franchise quarterback showed through a gritty 2013:
It was in his interviews. It was in his body language. It was in his pointed nature at the real turning point of the season, when a report surfaced he may request a trade in the offseason.
Roethlisberger led this team to a high level this season. The extension he will no doubt receive at some point this offseason should be celebrated as the end of the transition of this team into its future core group, and the beginning of the next generation of Steelers' success.
In Cleveland, the loss was the last straw for Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after just one season in Cleveland in a rather shocking move.
Here's Browns blog Dawgs by Nature's take on the firing:
That being said, let's cut Chud a break, he was a first year head coach on the Browns and the current roster is missing the biggest and most important piece of a NFL franchise, the QB. Still, the rosters did and does boast talented players at several positions such as Pro Bowlers LT - Joe Thomas, C - Alex Mack, TE - Jordan Cameron, and WR - Josh Gordon. The expectation from up top was that the coaches could take that talent and build a team certainly better than 4 - 12. To finish as poorly as they did was heartbreaking for fans and I think they wanted to see a coach who gave the team a personality and a gameplan to win and that inspired all his people to break the cycle of a losing culture. When the season started to slide, and things didn't get any better and Chud couldn't right the ship, I can only speculate that Haslam became as upset and enraged with the results as many Browns' fans did.