Champion Steelers Look To Avoid Replay of 2006

David KlinglerCorrespondent IApril 17, 2009

CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 28: Mike Tomlin, the Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is pictured against the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on October 28, 2007 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The 2006 season took a turn for the worse before it even got started.  Ben Roethlisberger's near fatal motorcycle accident cast a dark cloud over the Steelers that stayed with them all year.

After the accident, more bad luck awaited the Steelers.  There were appendectomies, concussions, and interceptions...lots of interceptions.

Pittsburgh dug themselves into a 2-6 hole that they were unable to climb out of. 

The Steelers found out the hard way that defending the title was not so easy.  When you are the champions, every opponent is going to turn it up a notch when they play you.

Despite knocking the rival Bengals out of the playoffs on the final weekend, the 8-8 season was a huge disappointment.  Week after week, the Steelers failed to match their opponents' intensity.

This season will mark the second time in four years that this current team of Steelers will be trying to repeat as champions.  Something tells me this time will be different.

They return for this season pretty much the same team that won Super Bowl XLIII.  A lot of these players can draw on their experience from 2006.

After navigating the toughest schedule in the league last year, this year's version is a little less daunting.  Pittsburgh's December schedule has them playing three-out-of-four games at home. 

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That's the stretch run toward the playoffs when serious contenders get on a roll.

With Santonio Holmes ready for a break out year following his MVP performance in the Super Bowl, and Ben Roethlisberger just entering the prime of his career, the Steelers should once again be one of the top contenders in the tough AFC.

Barring any unforeseen motorcycle accidents, I like the Steelers' chances of repeating as champions.  This time should be different.

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