The Steelers offense led by Roethlisberger and Brown is the top ranked of all playoff teams. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images
The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the playoffs for the first time since the end of the 2011 season. After alternating wins in their first six games of 2014, and of their five loses losing to teams that aren’t in the playoffs—Cleveland, NY Jets, Tampa Bay and New Orleans—Tomlin’s Crew rides into the playoffs winning 8 of their last 10.
Tomlin has the Steelers poised to make a run at Lombardi #7.
The Killer B offense led by Big Ben’s NFL high 4,952 yards with 32 TDs, Antonio Brown’s League high 129 catches and 1,698 yards with 13 TDs to go along with Le’Veon Bell’s 1,361 rushing yards, plus 83 receptions for 854 receiving yards has playoffs defenses on alert. You also have to account for #7’s security blanket Heath Miller (66 rec, 761 yards and 3 TDs) who averages 11.2 yards per catch. These aren’t your grandfather or even your father’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the knee injury to Bell and his questionable status, general manager Kevin Colbert went out and signed another B, former Browns running back Ben Tate. He’ll be running behind a much better offensive line than the one he had in Cleveland. Anything he can give the team will be a bonus, because the key to winning Saturday night will undoubtedly rest on the right arm of Roethlisberger and hands and feet of Brown.
Brown led all receivers in catches 129 and yards 1,698.
The Steelers have already played their Wild Card opponent Baltimore twice. The first meeting in week 2, was a total domination 26-6 victory for the Ravens in Charm City. The most recent matchup in week 9, the Steelers returned the favor, dominating the Ravens 43-23 with Roethlisberger throwing 6 TDs for the second consecutive week and 340 yards. Antonio Brown torched the number 24th ranked passing D for 144 yards and a 54 yard touchdown. On the season, the Ravens have the least amount of interceptions with 11 and give up a 64 percent completion percentage to opposing QBs. As I laid out earlier, right now the passing game is the strongest part of the Steelers offense, especially if Bell can’t play. His replacements biggest contribution may be just helping keep Roethlisberger’s jersey clean with good pass protection.
History is on the Steelers side in this matchup; they are 3-0 in playoff games against the Ravens; All of those games at Heinz Field (2001 Divisional Round, 2008 Championship Game, 2010 Divisional Round).
The Steelers are also flirting with history of their most recent past Super Bowl winning teams. The 2005 Championship went on a four game win streak headed into the playoffs, where they won four more as a Wild Card team to bring Lombardi number five to the Burgh.
In 2008, the 12-4 Steelers also won the AFC North and won 7 of their last 10 entering the playoffs and won three more to bring number six to the Steel City. They’re on track to duplicate those runs and win a NFL record seventh Super Bowl.