Pittsburgh Steelers Football Culture Has Changed with Ben Roethlisberger

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer ISeptember 25, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 06: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is congratulated by head coach Mike Tomlin after throwing a fourth quarter touchdown pass while playing the the Oakland Raiders December 6, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Oakland won the game 27-24.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

When the Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the 1970s, they did so with one of the best defenses in the history of the NFL. It was so dominant that the league even changed the rules to try and contain the way the Steelers dominated.

The pass interference call was a direct result of Mel Blount and how he could lock-down a corner.

They also had two running backs you may have heard of—Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier.

They were the dominant force on the ground. The Steelers ran the ball better than most teams in the NFL. Even when the rules changed, the Steelers still dominated on the ground.

That philosophy used to be the only way to win in the NFL. Run the ball to control the clock and give your defense a break, and they would have more energy to shut down the other team's offense. It was successful for decades.

But those days have passed.

No longer in the NFL can a team get by with being a run-first team. Looking at the last Super Bowl champions, all of them featured a pass-heavy attack. The Saints, Steelers, Colts, Giants, and Steelers (again), were all teams that were successful because they could throw the football.

There are two different kinds of Steelers fans. The first group is one that would like to see the Steelers get back to "power football." In one of my recent articles, about how Ben Roethlisberger's return would alter the Steelers, one of the comments left, stated so:

"I think the steelers winning while Ben is gone is only proving that Ben isn't as needed as everyone thinks IMO. Maybe if they stay away from him and keep playing smash mouth football they will win the SB but i see them becoming pass happy when he gets back and getting away from steeler football again and that in turn could ruin the Steelers season."—Lewis Oliver

The Steelers are not winning because Roethlisberger IS NOT playing, they are winning IN SPITE of him not playing. They are not running so much because it is successful, they are running so much because they don't have someone that is able to scare a defense from putting eight men in the box.

The second group is one that has watched the Steelers transform over the last five years into a team that is pass-heavy. Not because they wanted to, but because they finally have someone under center that is able to beat a team with his arm. That is not something the Steelers have had since Terry Bradshaw.

For those in the first group, there are a couple of points you need to consider:


1. The Steelers do want to run the ball better, but not as much as you would like.

The short-yardage situation has been addressed with Isaac Redman. Redman has already shown in 2010 that the team is better at short-yardage situations than in 2009.

The Steelers running game will be better once Roethlisberger returns because teams will have to consider the Steelers can pass on third-and-short or Big Ben will be able to run for a first down.


2. By a show of hands, how many people thought when the Steelers would be down by 10 in the fourth quarter of games, from 1990-2003, the game was as good as over because if the Steelers had to throw the ball, they would lose?

Because the NFL is now a passing league, you can not be a team the relies on the ground game, or when you need to throw, you can't. In 2009, there were many games that the Steelers lost because the defense could not stop the other team from passing.

Who remembers the Steelers final drive against the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII? Could we have won that game without Roethlisberger? Do you trust any other QB the Steelers have had since Bradshaw to lead that drive?


Steelers fans that long for the days of "three yards, and a cloud of dust", need to re-evaluate the NFL in 2010.

If you want the success the Steelers have had over the last five seasons (two Super Bowl championships), then you have to grow to accept that the Steelers are not the team that you rooted for growing up.

The reason for that success is Roethlisberger.

Prior to the start of the 2010 NFL season, no one gave the Steelers a chance at even making the playoffs, let alone challenging for the Super Bowl. Once Roethlisberger is back, and the offense is playing like they did in 2009, watch how many talking heads on TV are on the Steelers bandwagon.