A franchise-record start turned into an unimaginable collapse in 2020. But the Pittsburgh Steelers are still a team capable of winning an NFL championship.
Dating back to the merger in 1970, no franchise has won more games, more division titles and more Super Bowl rings. But the reputation of the Pittsburgh Steelers has taken some hits in recent years, due mainly to their postseason shortcomings as well as their quick fades late in the season.
The Black and Gold entered this offseason with plenty of salary cap issues and got some relief when veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his contract redone. Now the team is hoping that their longtime field general adapts to a new offense which puts more emphasis on balance and less on his arm.
Running the ball and an exceptional defense can add up to big things. So here is why the Steelers could come away with their first Super Bowl title since 2008.
1. Out with the new, in with an old-fashioned ground game
The team’s failure to maintain a consistent ground attack throughout the season each of the past three years has been one of the primary reasons Mike Tomlin’s squad has collapsed down the stretch each time. In 2018, the Steelers were 7-2-1 before losing four of their final six contests to fall out of the playoffs.
A year later, minus Ben Roethlisberger for the final 14 outings, Pittsburgh forged an 8-5 record only to lose their final three games. And in 2020, the unthinkable occurred as Tomlin’s club won its first 11 tilts before dropping five of their last six overall contests – including a humbling 48-37 home loss to the rival Browns in the wild card playoffs.
The Steelers were next-to-last in the league in rushing in 2018, “improved” to 29th one season later and ran for the fewest yards in the NFL in ’20. Hence it was little surprise that general manager Kevin Colbert made Alabama’s Najee Harris the 24th overall selection in April. It marked the first time since 2008 that the franchise used a first-round pick on a running back.
The Steelers’ offensive line, now minus familiar faces such as center Maurkice Pouncey and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, will take some time to gel. But new offensive coordinator Matt Canada appears prepared to make life easier for Roethlisberger and get some relief for the defense. Speaking of which…