Posted by Barrie on Sunday, 3 January 2010

What Happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Coming into the season as defending Champions and rightfully amongst the early-season favourites, the Pittsburgh Steelers opened the season with a tough-thought overtime victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Troy Polamalu suffered a knee injury in that opener and would miss the next 4 games. They would lose the next two games very late in Chicago and Cincinnati but rebound with 5 straight victories, including wins over San Diego and Minnesota to seal a 6-2 record at the halfway stage of the regular season. They were looking good despite being in a tough AFC North division with the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens playing well.

It would be the Bengals who ended the Steelers winning streak, in Pittsburgh on November 15 to top the division and a season sweep over last season's Superbowl Champions. That loss started a shocking run of form for the team lead by two-time Superbowl winner Ben Roethlisberger, losing in overtime to both the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, a home defeat by the Oakland Raiders and then a shocking performance in defeat to the Cleveland Browns on December 10th.

5 of their 7 defeats this season came after leading in the 4th quarter. Something that you don't associate with Superbowl champions and contenders. These defeats, especially to some of the weaker teams in the league have cost them their chance of defending the Superbowl.

Their basic offence doesn't utilise all of their weapons effectively. The likes of Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace could be effective in trick plays and reversals with their speed. Although the offensive line hasn't performed too well this season. Ben Roethlisberger is constantly scrambling around and trying to avoid sacks, as well as taking many too. Defensively they have a solid corpse, with Superbowl MVP James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley at outside linebacker, both great in run stuffing and blitzing. Polamalu, when fit is an elite safety and playmaker.

Mike Wallace's winning touchdown catch against Green Bay in week 15 ended their losing streak and then they pulled out the stops to beat Baltimore last week giving them some chance of making the playoffs. While our NFL Tipster correctly told me Pittsburgh were the “best banker” this weekend (they just about hang on, beating the Miami Dolphins 30-24, despite the Dolphins being down to their 3rd choice quarterback, Tyler Thigpen in the 4th quarter). The Houston Texans victory over New England not only ensured their first winning season record, but should mean the Steelers won't make the playoffs (they require Baltimore, New York and Denver all to lose in their late game kickoffs – all are favourites).

I would expect the Pittsburgh Steelers to bounce back, although it's too early to say. Now we have the NFL playoffs to look for before the Superbowl itself on February 7th. Our NFL Tipster and pro gambler will provide you with tips throughout the post season. He has also promised an interview on this blog in the near future.

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