The Pittsburgh Steelers are steeped in a winning tradition. Known for its stability, no team has matched the success of the Steelers’ six Super Bowl titles.
A great front office and coaching staff has greatly contributed to the success of the Steelers, but when it comes down to it, it is the players on the field who make the difference.
From Joe Greene to Rod Woodson to Jerome Bettis, the Steelers franchise has had legends that have led the team to success, and that tradition continues today.
The Steelers have some of the most talented players in the league, and for that reason, they are in contention for championships each and every year.
One of the most important players on the team is James Harrison.
Harrison is known for his nasty demeanor on the field; he is one of the most feared players in the league.
Not only does Harrison play a physical style of football, but he is one of the most well-rounded defenders in the league and Pittsburgh does not play the same without him.
As the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Harrison has proven his worth while on the field, but his importance to the team has shown while he has missed action over the past two seasons.
In 2011, Harrison played in only 11 games, but had nine of the team’s 35 sacks. So far in 2012, Harrison has yet to play, and the Steelers defense only has five total sacks in three games.
Is one player that important to the pass rush? In the case of Harrison, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
But Harrison does much more than get after the quarterback.
Since 2007, in addition to his 54 sacks, Harrison has 27 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries. He also added 20 passes defended and four interceptions during that time.
While Harrison may not be the same player that he was a few seasons ago, he is still one of the top defenders on the team and one of the most disruptive forces in the league.
One of the players that has Harrison beat in terms of disruption just so happens to play behind him.
Troy Polamalu is the most unique player in the league, as he can do things that no other defender in the NFL can do.
Polamalu is excellent both near the line of scrimmage and back in coverage, and like Harrison, his presence has been missed, as the Steelers defense has struggled in the early part of this season.
A former Defensive Player of the Year himself, Polamalu makes the Steelers defense tick.
The presence of Polamalu near the line means confusion for opposing offenses. They never know if he is going to blitz or drop back into coverage.
A blitzing Polamalu can mean a forced fumble or stopping a running back in the backfield for a loss. Or he can use his unreal closing speed to make impossible tackles.
There is no player in the league that can time a snap like Polamalu and go flying over the top of the line to make a stop, and there are few who have made the athletic interceptions that he has over the years.
Polamalu is a special athlete who adds another dimension to the defense and is impossible to replace.
But possibly the most irreplaceable member of the Steelers roster is Ben Roethlisberger. Just imagine where the Steelers would be without him.
They certainly would not have six Super Bowl titles. In fact, they’d probably still be waiting for that “one for the thumb.”
Instead, the Steelers are in contention every year because of their franchise quarterback. Roethlisberger is a winner and is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Roethlisberger can take the team on his back and carry them to victory, even if everything else is falling apart around him.
On a yearly basis, Roethlisberger has had to work with a porous offensive line and has faced pressure from every direction, yet he continues to extend plays and find targets down the field.
Roethlisberger has been able to do it without a strong running game. It is a myth that the Steelers are still a smash-mouth football team; it is actually quite the opposite.
There are few better field generals than Roethlisberger, who is a master of the no-huddle offense. When he steps in the huddle, his teammates are listening and believing that they can achieve the impossible.
But when it comes down to it, does Roethlisberger wear the crown? Is he the best Steelers player today?
Yes and yes.
Harrison and Polamalu mean a lot to the defense. Without these two players, the defense is unable to generate pressure on the quarterback and has trouble forcing turnovers. But that is when both are out.
As long as one of these defenders is on the field, the team puts forward a competitive defense. But that does not mean they can win the game alone. Roethlisberger can.
Without Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is not the same. They have to go into a shell as they are forced to go conservative with the backup quarterback.
As long as Roethlisberger is on the field, the Steelers have a chance to win. He can make all of the throws and has the leadership traits that can be matched by few.
Roethlisberger is the driving force behind the Steelers' success, and as long as he is under center, the Steelers are going to have a shot to win.
For these reasons, Roethlisberger wears the crown as the best member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.