Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger looks back as he jogs off of the field after failing to convert on a 4th down and goal in the second half against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on January 22, 2017. The Patriots defeated the Steelers 36-17 and advance to play the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in Houston Texas. Photo by John Angelillo/ UPI | License Photo
PITTSBURGH -- If the pattern the Pittsburgh Steelers have followed the last few years holds true the Steelers will lose in the Super Bowl next year.
After not making the playoffs in 2013, the Steelers made the playoffs as a wild card in 2014, advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs in 2015 and the AFC championship game in 2016.
That's good progress for an organization that went 8-8 in consecutive years in 2012 and 2013.
The Steelers used a second-half turnaround to win the AFC North after this season starting the season 4-5. They won nine in a row before losing to the Patriots in the title game.
The defense had a rough start to the season, but some midseason changes, including the insertion of rookie defensive backs Artie Burns and Sean Davis into the starting lineup in the second half helped the team jell into a playoff contender.
The offense didn't develop an identity until midseason, but when it did the results were spectacular.
The Steelers morphed from a team that relied on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his passing skills to one that thrived with a running game that revolved around Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell.
It's a recipe to follow in years to come as the Steelers transition into the twilight of Roethlisberger's career.
Roethlisberger still has a rifle for an arm and should benefit greatly from the return of Martavis Bryant, who missed the 2016 season under a drug suspension.
If Bryant can stay on the field the Steelers might challenge the Falcons for the top offense in 2017 and that might be enough to put them over the top in the AFC.