Having your season come to an end one play into sudden-death overtime is painful. Getting beat by a team you believed to be mediocre is another level of hurt entirely.
âWhat gives you motivation is not playing in the Super Bowl, getting eliminated in the first round, losing to a team we had no business losing to,â linebacker Lamar Woodley said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. âItâs a team we should have easily beat. Thatâs motivation, watching teams play the week after us.â
Tebow needed just 10 completions to total 316 yards passing, and it's that final completion that is burned into the retina of Steelers Nation. Tebow hitting Demaryius Thomas on a slant, Thomas stiff-arming Ike Taylor to the ground and taking it 80 yards to the house. Bedlam at Mile High, heartbreak in Pittsburgh.
âWhen you lose in that manner, the game sticks with you,â says linebacker Larry Foote. âItâs going to stick with us forever.â
The Steelers have retooled their roster following that devastating setback, and the players who remain believe they will overcome the loss of veteran leaders like James Farrior, Hines Ward and Aaron Smith.
"As leaders leave," Woodley said, "other guys around here become leaders.â