For a season that experienced the Josh Scobee epidemic, Michael Vick getting another shot in the NFL, Landry Jones, and a team riddled with injuries, a win in the playoffs and an AFC Divisional game is not a disappointment what-so-ever. In fact, as a fan, I cannot wait for what is to come and anyone who thinks otherwise should be ashamed to call themselves a fan. Ben’s backups stepped up and handled the reigns about as well as you could expect from a backup, DeAngelo Williams took over in the absence of Le’Veon Bell, and earned himself a 2-year contract, and the offense proved to teams around the NFL that you will get burnt if you put your sole focus of Antonio Brown, which will help them in the long-run.
An early loss in New England showed both promise and concern; Promise in the ability to move the ball, without Le’Veon Bell due to his two-game suspension for an offseason run-in with marijuana. As well as concern in blown coverage, and the kicking game. Although frustrating, an opening day loss is not as concerning when it comes at the hands of the New England Patriots, you’re kidding yourself if you don’t agree.
After making a mockery of the San Francisco 49ers, in which Ben Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns, the Steelers flashed their true colors to the world and were starting to prove to their fan base that this could be a consistent occurrence throughout the season. Then it all started to go downhill. Although surviving the game and squeaking out a 12-6 win in St. Louis, Ben suffered a left knee injury that would eventually give Michael Vick another chance in the NFL.
Vick showed promise against the division rival Baltimore Ravens, getting the team in position to win the game several times, but Josh Scobee could not pull through… twice… which led Mike Tomlin and the rest of the team to not trust him on a 50-yard field goal, resulting in a turnover on downs and a long Justin Tucker field goal to win the game for the Ravens. Josh Scobee was soon released after that game, in favor for Chris Boswell; a kicker few knew much about, but it may have been the best acquisition of the season.
A last-second score from Le’Veon Bell sealed the deal against the San Diego Chargers, Chris Boswell took care of the Arizona Cardinals and took home Special Teams Player of the Week honors, and a final game for Landry Jones against the Chiefs despite a touchdown to Jones’ favorite target during his tenure, Martavis Bryant.
Ben returned the following week, not at 100%, and it showed. Three interceptions, two on the final two drives, and 10 unanswered 4th quarter points doomed the Steelers. Looking back, this very well could’ve been the game that sparked the flame to realize their true potential; Pittsburgh won 5 over the next 6 games, scoring an average of 35 points including games against the division rivals Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals.
Another embarrassing loss to the Ryan Mallet-led Baltimore Ravens, a win against the Cleveland Browns and a little help from the Buffalo Bills secured a playoff spot in the biggest roller coaster of a season Pittsburgh has seen in a long time.
A violent playoff game in Cincinnati ultimately doomed the Pittsburgh Steelers, with the injuries of Ben, DeAngelo, and Antonio, and the Bengals also gave themselves a bad name. Vontaze Burfict was suspended for three games, Pacman Jones spoke his mind on the Steelers, and showed national television who really deserved to lose that game.
Deion Sanders, who is ironically known for his talk on and off the field, said it best: “Don’t allow your emotions, in the spur of the moment, cloud your judgement that could lead to a decision that changes your entire life.” The difference between Deion Sanders and those Cincinnati Bengals is Sanders, like Cam Newton this year, backed up his actions with his play on the field. That is all I will say on the matter.
Going into the Divisional game against the Broncos battle-scarred, to say the least, didn’t leave much to be desired. A playoff game without your best quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, which just so happened to be the first time that’s ever happened, is a recipe for disaster. For what it’s worth, the game was very respectable; Ben battled through a pain-ridden throwing arm, Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman both played well, and several times put the Steelers in position to score, but couldn’t pull through. Although all most of Pittsburgh will put the blame on Toussaint, (and some retired running back Isaac Redman) a freak play by Bradley Roby ended the Steelers season.
In hindsight, a loss may have been a good thing: any more time on the field could have led Ben’s injury to worse, and be out for some of next year. Antonio Brown may have played, but would not have been 100%, and head-injuries are not anything to be messed with. The loss gives them more time to recover, ends the already injury-plagued season, and the loss could spark the fire needed to start strong next season.
I’m excited for what’s to come. The best offense in the league on paper, needs to translate it onto the field; as long as the team can stay healthy, that stretch from week 9 to week 15 in which they averaged 35 points a game could be an every week happening come 2016.
Strengthen the defense, especially the secondary, in the upcoming offseason as well as find a decent backup for Ben and the next couple of years could be special.
The only thing I’m worried about? 90% of this roster could be stars on most of the teams in the league, and once other teams begin to catch on, those players will want to get paid like stars; needless to be said, no team can afford to keep that many stars on its team.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
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