Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin admitted that he "dozed off" before knowing whether his team clinched a postseason berth in a game that ended past midnight Monday ET.
The Steelers needed the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders to just not end in a tie, which was nearly the case as both teams were gridlocked at 32-32 with less than a minute remaining in overtime.
But Tomlin, 49, said fell asleep before Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson hit a game-winning field goal as time expired to provide the final necessary outcome for Pittsburgh to clinch a playoff berth.
"I dozed off," Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday via ESPN. "I knew I had a workday waiting on me, or I assumed that I had a workday waiting on me. I think at one point, [the Raiders] were up by 15, and that number made you somewhat comfortable.
"I'm probably better off not having watched it."
The Steelers clinched an improbable playoff berth on Sunday after earning a crucial 35-32 overtime victory in their final regular season game against the rival Baltimore Ravens and having the necessary chips fall in their favor.
Pittsburgh needed a win against the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens, as well as an Indianapolis Colts upset loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and for the Sunday Night Football matchup to just not end in a tie.
All three of those things happened, though perhaps in more dramatic fashion than understandably anxious Steelers fans had likely hoped for.
Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore, 16-13, after Chris Boswell made a game-winning 36-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining in overtime.
The Jaguars' spoiled the Colts' playoff chances with a shocking 26-11 win -- their third of the 2021 season -- at TIAA Bank Field in arguably the most surprising necessary outcome of the three games.
The Steelers then had to wait hours for the Chargers-Raiders matchup to know their playoff fate.
Fortunately for the Steelers, Carlson's connected on a 47-yard field goal as time expired to bounce the Chargers out of the postseason and open the seventh and final playoff seed for Pittsburgh.
That means quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has now publicly acknowledged his plans to retire after the 2021-22 season, will get to play one last playoff run before his inevitable Pro Football Hall of Fame induction.
“So many people got involved. So many people helped make this happen. Offense, defense — there was never a doubt Bos was going to make it,” Roethlisberger said after Sunday's game via ProFootballTalk. “This is a group that we just wanted to try to get in.”
The Steelers will now face the No. 2 seed Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday in the AFC Wild Card round.
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