PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told his players during the final team meeting on Monday to hold onto the "raw" disappointment they felt after a 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC wild-card game.
But Tomlin also acknowledged that the Steelers generated plenty of positives in going 11-5 and winning the AFC North.
"I think we were a much better team at the end of the journey than the beginning and you better be," the eighth-year coach said Tuesday during his season-ending news conference. "We've got a lot of guys that took big, positive steps in '14. I do feel comfortable about the growth of a lot of men."
My Steelers' season review will be posted at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday and it will include final grades for the offense and defense as well as an overall grade for the season.
Before I weigh in, here is what a handful of Steelers players said when I asked them to assign a letter grade to the season.
OLB Jason Worilds: "I'll say a B-minus because some of the games we lost this year we knew we were better than that. For everybody to look each other in the eyes, hold each other accountable and come back and be productive that's bonus points. It's a different feel than it's been in the past and for us to get to where we were this year, it's a disappointing (end), but a step in the right direction."
G David DeCastro: "There's one way they grade seasons here in Pittsburgh and obviously we kind of failed so you give it an 'F' I guess. It sucks that it's over because you really enjoyed the process. It's a good group of guys, especially in our room."
G Ramon Foster: "I can't give it (a grade) because there's just so many things that go into that. It was a good season, (but) we can't be satisfied with what we have. That's got to be the biggest thing we carry to (training) camp. We've got to work harder."
LB Vince Williams: "Probably a B-minus or a B. We made the playoffs but obviously we fell short of our ultimate goal. You want to put yourself in a position to win out and obviously we did that so that's a plus. But we didn't finish."
S Shamarko Thomas: "I'd give it a C We all came together and competed and gave it our all, man, it just didn't come out like we wanted it to. It's definitely a C because we're striving for the Super Bowl."