6 Reasons You Can Never Count out the Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that can never be counted out in any game or season. They’ve historically shown the ability to overcome a lot of diversity to reach great heights, something that isn’t always shown by each NFL team.
Here are five reasons you cannot count the Steelers out regardless of the circumstances.
I can point out two years as concrete examples of how the Steelers overcame themselves to make it to the Super Bowl.
The 2010 season started with a bleak outlook from analysts. Pittsburgh was tasked with navigating the first four games of the season with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch at quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger served a four-game suspension. They went 3-1.
Once Roethlisberger returned, the team rolled to a 12-4 record and an AFC Championship despite a suspect offensive line, an injury to Troy Polamalu that sidelined him for most of the stretch drive and the league’s toughest schedule in decades.
Before that, the team overcame a mid-season funk in 2005 to reach the playoffs as a wild card before becoming the first team to win three road playoff games on the way to a Super Bowl XL victory.
Take a Look Under Center
There are certain players who are called upon in big situations to be “the guy.” In the late '90s and early 2000s, if the Patriots needed a field goal, they called on Adam Vinatieri. These are guys whose failure in the pressure situation is more surprising than any success they could have.
When the Steelers need an inspired comeback, they turn to their quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger is among the best in the business in that regard. He has 27 game-winning or comeback drives in the fourth quarter and overtime. He’s the only player with more than 20 before age 30, and he’s working to put that record out of reach.
The Steelers are a gutsy football team that relies on their defense to keep tough opponents close. When they need a closer, they send out Big Ben.
And About That Defense
This season, the Steelers haven’t done much in the turnover creation department. They have played some lights-out defense, but they haven’t really forced the mistakes that they did in 2010, when they had 35 takeaways.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t make the big plays. The two turnovers that Pittsburgh has created have taken momentum away from the opposing team. The fumble Troy Polamalu created against Indianapolis effectively won the game because it broke the Colts’ back.
The point is that the Steelers defense has a history and a habit of coming up big in big situations just like Ben Roethlisberger does. When you have an opportunistic defense with that kind of talent, you will win a lot of games you maybe shouldn’t have won.
This might be a relatively recent development, but it’s going to help the Steelers win a lot of games in the future. As the Steelers defense proved in Super Bowl XLV, the hardest thing to defend against is a team that can spread you out with four or five talented receivers.
The Steelers have six talented receivers and a tight end that is fast becoming one of the best red zone targets in the NFL.
Hines Ward is the veteran possession guy who makes the tough catches and takes (and delivers) the big hits. Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown are speedsters who are intelligent, precise route runners. Jerricho Cotchery and Arnaz Battle round out the group, and both could be much higher on another team’s depth chart.
How do you defend against that? It becomes even worse when you consider who’s throwing them the ball.
And They Can Run Too!
So 2011 hasn’t been kind to Rashard Mendenhall. His struggles are partially due to the offensive line’s struggles and his own injuries. That doesn’t mean the Steelers don’t have some weapons.
Isaac Redman, Mewelde Moore and Jonathan Dwyer round out the corps of runners in the Pittsburgh backfield. Each of them can gain yards, and all of them have had some success this season. The Steelers usually depend on the run to close out games and eat up the clock. They can definitely do that with this stable of guys.
In short, the offense can do anything as long as they get the blocking. If they continue to play like they did against Tennessee, they’ll win a lot of games in a schedule that just doesn’t strike fear into anyone after their Week 11 bye.
Mentality of the Coaches
Teams are often a projection of the attitude of their coaches. There aren’t many more confident and motivational coaches in the NFL than Mike Tomlin and his staff and it shows.
This team has routinely stepped up after ugly games and shown its mettle. While it might be nice to see the team steamroll its competition each week, that’s simply not the way of the Steelers. They play close, gutsy, war-like football. Tomlin often refers to football as a game of attrition. His team plays it to perfection.
The Steelers have a long history of great coaches who orchestrated winning teams with players that many would write off. If nothing else, the work of their coaching staff, one of the most veteran groups in the league, should give one pause before counting them out.