Battle Tested and Ready to Go

By Jeremy Hritz

Sure, the ankle of Ben Roethlisberger is hurt. Probably even more so than it was last week. Yes, Rashard Mendenhall is done for the year, and possibly until October. Correct. The up-and-coming corner Cortez Allen is out, and Keenan Lewis, though he will play, is dealing with a hamstring. Combine all of this with the return of Doug Legursky and LaMarr Woodley, both who may still have lingering effects from their injuries, and what you have is a recipe for Mile High loss, right? Wrong. The Pittsburgh Steelers of 2011 are a team who have, won in the face of adversity and overcome their fair share of obstacles to not only finish with a 12 and 4 record, but also with the number one ranked defense in overall yardage, passing yardage, and points allowed, not to mention two young wide outs both with over 1,000 yards receiving, and a quarterback with a trifecta of injuries (thumb, foot, ankle) who endured a relentless pounding who still managed to throw for over 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Imagine if he had been healthy and actually had some consistency on the offensive line? He would probably have joined Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford as a 5,000 yard passer. The bottom line is that this is a Pittsburgh team that has demonstrated that in the face of never-ending injuries, bad early season losses, and an over-eager officiating NFL to put themselves in a position to make a deep playoff run. Though the post-season itinerary most likely will not make any stops on the North Shore, the Steelers have what it takes to make it to the Super Bowl and win it. The NFL playoffs are a test of a team’s ability to respond to adversity, and those that can rise above it ultimately will earn a spot in Indianapolis come February. If this season has proven anything about the Steelers, it is just that: nothing is too big for them.

We can stop now with any anxiety of losing to the Denver Broncos. Sure, they will play in front of a home crowd; yes, they have two tremendous pass rushers in Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller, and Tim Tebow seems to have a knack (however ugly) in the 4th quarter. Yet the bottom line is that Denver is just not an overall great team, not even a good team. The Broncos are offensively challenged, averaging only a hair over 18 points a game since Tebow has started, and while their running game is the best in the league, their passing game under Tebow is abysmal and ineffective (see 48% completion percentage). This is also a Denver team that has given up more than 29 points 6 times in 2011 and 32 points to a terrible Minnesota team and 40 to a below average Buffalo squad. Their inability to score points and their ability to keep opponents from scoring creates a more-than-favorable match-up for the Steelers.

Believe it. This is a Pittsburgh Steelers team with all of the potential to win their 7th Super Bowl trophy. They are adversity-tested. They are a 12 win team despite the dearth of turnovers and an excess of injuries. Come Sunday, expect the Steelers to play their best game of the season thus far and emerge with the win making all those fans on Sunday wearing purple and black cheering on the orange and blue more than a little uneasy. Here we go…

  • Mellymorales07

    This is the best post I have ever read good job steeler depot !! This Sunday where gonna call it Crush Tebow Time !! Let’s go Steelers !! See y’all in Denver !!

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Tebow…offensively challenged. I agree. Then you gave a stat. Averaging 18 pts a game under Tebow is Denver. That would put them at 26th offensively. Here is the scarry part. Pittsburgh is averaging 20.3. You know where that puts us…22nd. Wow, we really light up the scoreboard. Yes, this group is battle tested, but the stats we are using are exactly the stats BA pulls out. 4000 yard passer, 2 1000 yard receivers, close to a 1,000 yard rusher. Yep, we can’t score, but we sure move the ball all over the place. Oh and in case you really want to examine this. We are averaging less than 16 pts/game on the road this year.

  • Menace_501

    Good article! Something to consider looking at the stats and success. This was done with backups or second team. Imagine the possibilities.

  • Steeler4Life

    Unless he is knocked out of the game, Ben will play to the last whistle. This game will rise or fall on his performance. If he performs like he did against SF, anything can happen in this game, including the dreaded loss to Denver. If we lose, there will follow an entire off season of second guessing the decisions to play him in SF and Cleveland, rather than get him healthy for the playoff’s.

    I’m not so sure such second guessing won’t be justified. Even if we win in Denver, we are looking at a banged up QB who won’t be healthy in any game the remainder of this season. An immobile Ben is unlikely to produce against Baltimore’s defense, or be efficient enough with his passes to out score Brady and the Pat’s. Healthy, I would take this team against anyone… but without healthy Ben we are facing far more than adversity moving beyond Denver. A deep run in these playoff’s is wishful thinking at best, I am sad to say. I’d love to be wrong, stranger things have happened, but I don’t see a magical end to this season with #7, bringing #7 to the trophy case.

  • AndyR34

    Stats are funny things…they can say almost anything you want to prove if you pick the right stat. I believe that you are correct in using scoring as opposed to that crap that BA tries to hide behind. Some other thoughts…in Ben’s last three games, we have averaged (another stat) only 10 points per game, although that was against the league’s #2 scoring defense (SF @ 14.3 ppg) and the league’s #5 twice (Browns @19.2 ppg). Nevertheless, we were underperforming. Meanwhile, under Batch, they scored 27 against the league’s #26 defense (Rams @25.4). Is the difference meaningful? Also, remember, Ben is also not feeling as good as he was in the last Cleveland game. As Steeler4life said above…Ben will play the whole game regardless of how ineffective he is and Tomlin & Arians obviously feel Ben gives them their best chance to win. I’m not so sure…unless the defense can pitch a shutout.

  • Davidrussellg

    I agree with steeler for life.I bleed black and gold but as optimistic as I am it’s hard to see us advancing past the second round.The Injuries are what they are but Tomlin and Bruce deserve a swift kick in butt for allowing Ben to play four 4quaters in those two games.Lets see I thought Tomlin said next man up and the standard is the standard.Well if he doesnt have confidence in the next man up(Batch/Dixon)
    it sounds like there is a double standard.Sorry just venting.Sad to say but last year was our year to take #7 home and we didnt

  • TEverett

    Excellent points! An offense full of “weapons” (and they are talented, indeed) somehow has a knack of not scoring very many points. Is it because the defense produces insufficient field position? Or turnovers? Is it an offensive line grouping that changes week to week (or even within game)due to injuries, poor performance, or lack of preparation (I’m looking at you, Gilbert) ? Or has the offense become so enamored of their stats and highlight reels that the execution doesn’t always match the situation (seriously, 3 TD’s in 8 quarters against the 4-12 Browns?) This team did go 3 and 4 against playoff teams this season (with 2 of those wins against the Bungles and 1 very impressive win against NE). But this defense won’t hold many teams in the tournament under 20 points, and if Big Ben reverts to Turnover Ben, they will have an extra month to recover before training camp 2012.