PITTSBURGH - Turns out the Pittsburgh Steelers' win at Cleveland was just a mirage.
The return of the old defense - the one with the sacks and takeaways and pressure - was a one-game wonder against an inferior opponent.
Faced with better competition in Baltimore, the other "old" defense reappeared. This one is old in the sense that too many people are on the wrong side of 30.
So now the Steelers are 5-7. They're not out of the playoff hunt, but the chances are slim. It's far more likely they'll finish 8-8 again and watch the playoffs on TV.
This, of course, is the worst of all worlds. They miss the postseason, but they're not bad enough to claim a prime drafting position.
A prime draft pick would be a huge help in an offseason that's going to bring big changes.
In the way
You probably smiled when Mike Tomlin stepped on the field and got in the way of Jacoby Jones' kickoff return.
It wouldn't be nearly as funny if Baltimore coachJohn Harbaugh had stepped on the field and gotten in the way of a Steelers player running back a kick.
Whether Tomlin's interference was intentional or not doesn't matter.
A coach doesn't have any business on the field, and the NFL should fine Tomlin to remind him and all the other coaches of that basic fact.
Just for kicks
Too bad the Steelers weren't wearing their silly jailbreak throwback uniforms in Baltimore.
Shaun Suisham's misdirection play on the ill-fated onside kick at the end looked like something Curly would have done in one of the old Three Stooges shorts.
He put so much effort into the weaving reverse approach to the ball that he neglected the most important part - making sure the ball went 10 yards so the Steelers could legally recover it.
It was the worst play since Suisham broke the monotony of the snap/hold/kick sequence earlier in the game by running up to kick a ball that hadn't arrived yet.
Suisham has been money for the Steelers, so the intent isn't to pick on him or blame him for the loss.
It's just that those two plays brought back bad memories of when Booth Lusteg was kicking for the Steelers.
Selection of the three stars is a hockey tradition, but nothing that should be taken seriously.
The picks are usually made by the home team's PR staff, and often reflect that bias.
That was illustrated by the Penguins' game at Tampa Bay on Friday. The Lightning's J.T. Brown was named the game's No. 2 star. His team lost 3-0.
There was no recognition of Sidney Crosby, who had three assists, or Chris Kunitz, who scored two goals.
Mehno can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org