The Steelers Overcame

There is a lot more to overcoming adversity than just overcoming key injuries, but lets start there. The Steelers sustained injuries to their Left and Right tackles, one preseason, and the other early in the season on November 10th. Add to that the loss of the most underrated Steeler on the field ever Sunday Aaron Smith, and you’ve got a recipe for what could be disaster. Ziggy Hood has stepped in for Aaron Smith and done a fantastic job with somewhat of a breakout season. The offensive line has not been so lucky.

Often down to their third string offensive linemen, the Steelers have somehow persevered allowing 42 sacks on the season. Not all of that should be blamed on the banged up offensive line, but much of that is due to the losses of Max Starks and Willie Colon. Check out this article from SteelersDepot on sack totals and blame. We all know Big Ben likes to hold the ball in order to extend plays and that sometimes results in him taking some bad sacks.

The Steelers overcame.

The Steelers began their season without Santonio Holmes, their SB 43 MVP, and star WR. He had failed yet another drug test (and by failed I mean, he didn’t show up for it, which means he failed it) and would be suspended for 4 games. The Steelers, pretending like they don’t put up with that kind of behavior (most of the time its true), traded him to the Jets for a 5th round draft pick. Ouch. Santonio was just hitting his prime as a WR, and would have been a nice asset to a Steelers offense that had two WRs and a RB with over 1,000 yds each, and a 4,000 yd QB in 2009. Young rookies like Manny Sanders, Antonio Brown, and second year star Mike Wallace had to step up and show that they could collectively fill ‘Tone’s big shoes and….

The Steelers overcame.

The Steelers have gone without their all-pro safety Troy Polomalu at various points in the season, and word has it that he’s been playing at less that 100% on an injured Achilles tendon for more than just a few games. His performance has shown that his injury has affected his play. Fortunately for the Steelers, just the idea of Troy being out there is enough to make an offense think twice about throwing to a certain point on the field.

The Steelers overcame.

Ben Roethlisberger was given an unwarranted 6 game suspension for some less than admireable behavior in Georgia in the off-season. He was never charged with anything, due to lack of evidence that anything illigal actually took place, but that didn’t stop our Dictator Roger Goodell from slapping that ridiculous suspension on Ben. Ray Lewis stabs a guy to death and now he’s the face of Old Spice….go figure.

The Steelers Overcame.

After acquiring Byron Leftwich to take over Ben’s duties for the first part of the season, the Steelers sat back and watched as some of the craziest QB controversies took place right before their eyes. Leftwich was injured just before the regular season started, so then it was Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon. Dixon got the nod as starter due to his admirable performance against Baltimore in 2009 when he stepped in for an injured Big Ben, only to see him get a knee injury and be placed on IR. So, it was Charlie Batch who had to step in and win some games. Batch was actually almost cut at one point. During those two games, we had Batch as our starter, and Antwaan Randle El as our backup. We ended up going 3-1 to start the season against formidable opponents. Many predicted a 1-3 start, or worse.

The Steelers overcame.

When the NFL launched its “no big hits” policy, who better to make an example of that the Pittsburgh Steelers? And they did. The NFL slapped the most ridiculous fines on James Harrison for doing what he does best: destroying people. As you can see from the pic below, his form-perfect hit on Massaquoi was a thing of beauty. Rookie QB Colt McCoy left his WR out to dry when he led him by too much as he was running across the field.

What are the consequences of Colt’s throw? Well…this hit. Instead of slapping James with a ridiculous fine, they should have fined Colt McCoy for causing the hit, or Massaquoi for not having the savvy to get down before getting crushed.

Every time I see Hines Ward snag a ball on a slant rout in the middle of the field, I see him bare down just before he takes the big hit. He knows to get low, so a safety can’t make such a big hit on him. And you know what? He always bounces back up again, with a smile on his face. Massaquoi wasn’t so smart, but then again, he plays for the Browns, so what else would you expect?

After contemplating retirement (we all knew he was bluffing), he is back to his old self, but not before being made an example of in the NFL. If James Harrison would so much as breath on a QB mid-season, every yellow flag, and officals’ hats were flying through the air like confetti on New Years Eve.

The Steelers overcame.

The other side of that story is the LACK of protection for Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, sometimes Ben holds on to the ball too long. Yes, Ben has a banged up offensive line and therefore takes a lot of hits. But come on, guys. Ben gets sucker-punched in the face on the first drive of the second game against the Ravens this season (Ben was already playing with a broken foot. He had to wear a shoe 2 sizes bigger than his other to fit the brace), which breaks his nose, and there is no flag thrown. If you haven’t seen this hit, you MUST look it up. Its vicious, and it goes unflagged. Add to that all the other times opposing players have body-slammed Big Ben after the ball has long been thrown and all of the sudden Steelers fans who cry conspiracy really don’t seem to be that off. Thank God Big Ben has nothing in common with Jay Cutler other than the position they play.

The Steelers overcame.

Throughout the playoffs, the Steelers’ already suspect secondary had to play without cornerback Bryant McFadden and with an injured Troy Polamalu. Big Play Willy Gay, more often known as a guy who gives up more big plays than he makes, stepped in and did a fine job. Ryan Clark has also played admirably.

In the AFC Championship game, the Steelers lost their pro-bowl rookie center Maurkice Pouncey to a high ankle sprain early in the game. The Brains and Bronze of our offensive line was out, and back-up Doug Legursky was in. It was a detrimental blow to our offense, and it is a large factor why the Steelers were a non-factor offensively in the second half. Both dropped snaps were Legursky’s fault, one of them causing a safety and a big blow to some momentum gained from the defense on a goal line stand just before. Regarless of such a huge loss, they were able to hault the roaring Super Bowl QB-slaying Jets and earn another Super Bowl birth.

The Steelers overcame.

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