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The Steelers are heading back to the playoffs after Titans hand Jaguars crushing loss

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Left for dead in mid-December, the Pittsburgh Steelers are heading back to the playoffs anyway.

Pittsburgh clinched a wild-card spot Sunday when Tennessee upset Jacksonville, giving the Steelers (10-7) a playoff berth that seemed unlikely following a three-game skid that included losses to lowly Arizona and New England.

Coach Mike Tomlin inserted third-stringer Mason Rudolph at quarterback after getting blown out at Indianapolis on Dec. 16, and Rudolph responded by helping Pittsburgh reel off three consecutive wins over Cincinnati, Seattle and AFC North champion Baltimore on Saturday.

The Steelers will be the seventh seed and play at AFC East champion Buffalo in the wild-card round Sunday at 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh hasn’t won a playoff game since beating Kansas City in the divisional round of the 2016 postseason. The Steelers have lost each of their last four playoff games decisively, falling to New England in the 2016 AFC Championship, Jacksonville in the division round in 2017, Cleveland in the first round in 2020 and Kansas City in the first round in 2021.

Pittsburgh will have to move forward without star outside linebacker T.J. Watt. The perennial All-Pro and Defensive Player of the Year candidate left the victory over Baltimore with a knee injury that is expected to sideline him indefinitely.

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