In? Not quite.
Out? Maybe not.
In limbo for a few hours? Possibly.
Done playing meaningful games until September? Very likely.
"It's us that are losing these games," wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. "There is no one else outside of what goes on in this organization that are losing these ballgames."
"We put ourselves in the situation, but we just have to go into Miami and take care of business," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "The only thing you can control is what you can control, and that's the last games you have."
Then, they needed to win at Tampa Bay during the final week of the season and have four teams from a pack of five lose. That's exactly what happened, and the Steelers got in.
The Steelers understand the risk of playing key regulars in such games, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger received a concussion while playing during a meaningless, regular season-ending game against Cleveland last year. He returned to lead Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl victory, but he benefited from a bye week that New England won't enjoy this season.
Pittsburgh's path became far more circuitous Sunday when the Colts benched their regulars late in the third quarter, and the Jets rallied against Indianapolis backups to win 29-15. As a result, the only scenario that gets Pittsburgh into the playoffs without a Jets loss is for both Houston and Baltimore to lose or tie.
And there's this -- even if the dominos fall and the Steelers somehow make it in, they're staring at a wild-card game Jan. 9-10 at New England, which is 8-0 at home this season.
"It would be very disappointing (not to make it)," linebacker James Farrior said. "That's everybody's goal, to try to get into this dance and do some damage."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press