Steelers finished 2013 like Steelers. Photo Courtesy: Steelers.com
The Steelers 2013 season was definitely a roller coaster. There was a four game losing streak, two three game winning streaks, key injuries to Pro Bowl performers and several good and bad records broken. Pittsburgh ended the 2013 without a trip to the playoffs–if the Refs were paying attention in that KC-SD game, they would be–but finished in a fashion the faithful in Steeler Nation are used to.
In their last 4 games they went 3-1, a far cry from the 0-4 start to the season. The offense moved the ball gaining an average 337.5 total yards per game–251.1 via the pass for 12th in the NFL–and finished with an average of 23.7 Points a game. Nearly a two touchdown improvement on the 10.6 they begin the season with.
Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell proved he could carry the load as the teams featured runner. After missing the first three games of the season, he gained 1,259 yards from scrimmage–860 of them on the ground–breaking the rookie record once held by Hall Of Famer Franco Harris.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looked more and more like the guy who has two Super Bowl rings and pretty much all of the franchises passing records. For the season, Big Ben passed for 4,261 yards, 28 touchdowns on a 64.2 percent completion rate. More importantly he played and started in all 16 games. The last time he did that was during the 2008 season when Pittsburgh went on to win Super Bowl XLIII.
The defense even stepped up down the stretch to finish with the 11th ranked overall defense, 8th in the pass. Not bad for an aging defense, but still not enough to contend for Super Bowls. They allowed an average of 23.1 points per game and 337.2 yards per game on the season. In three of their last four games, they gave up 34, 31 and 20 points.
Back to my point about they should be in the playoffs. Kansas City Chief kicker Ryan Succup missed a 41 yard field goal with 6 seconds left in the 4th quarter that could have beaten the San Diego Chargers and propelled the Steelers into the 6th seed.
Chargers should’ve been flagged for illegal formation. Photo Courtesy: USA Today
On the play, the Chargers lined up 7 guys on the right side of the center, which is an illegal formation. Kansas City should’ve been given another chance to kick and possibly win the game. Then in Overtime, the Kansas City Defense stopped Eric Weddle on a fake punt and returned it for a touchdown, which should’ve given the Chiefs the victory. But, the Refs said Weddle’s forward progress was stopped, thus the play was dead.
In the end, had Pittsburgh taken care of their business during the regular season, they wouldn’t have been in position to fall victim to the Refs mistakes in the Chief-Charger game. Message now received. The way the Steelers ended the season, I expect them to come back strong in 2014. Management has some big decision to make, I’ll have more on that later this week.