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The Steelers have been representing the Steel City of Pittsburgh on the football field for over 80 years. Any franchise that has survived the ups and downs of all these years is bound to have a history marked by periods of great success and periods of great struggle. Luckily for fans in Pittsburgh, it seems that the days of struggle are long behind them.
While the Pittsburgh Steelers started off by making the playoffs only once between 1933 and 1971, they have gone on to the postseason 29 times since. Racking up 22 Division championships, eight Conference championships, and six Super Bowl victories, the Steelers have experienced a kind of success that sets them apart from the other teams in the league.
Widely famous around the NFL for their dominant teams of the 1970s which included several Hall of Fame players, the Steel Curtain punished the opposition with a kind of force we do not find in today’s game. The players that made up this famous defensive line were “Mean” Joe Greene, LC Greenwood, Ernie Holmes, and Dwight White. They, along with legendary players including Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Mel Blount, Jack Lambert, and Jack Ham combined to bring four Super Bowl titles to Pittsburgh under head coach Chuck Noll.
Upon his retirement in 1991, the Steelers hired Bill Cowher as the new head coach. Cowher, a former NFL player with a tough exterior, expected greatness out of his players. Playing smash mouth football, the Steelers teams under Cowher were known for defensive dominance and a punishing run first offense. His tenure culminated with a Super Bowl victory in 2005 over the Seattle Seahawks. Innovative play calling (such as wide receiver Antwaan Randle-El passing for a touchdown) and heavy running (including a 75 yard run by Willie Parker) brought the title back to Steel City. Hines Ward took home the MVP trophy as both Cowher and Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis rode off into the sunset as champions. Franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger started his career with a Super Bowl win in his rookie season.
The task of replacing Cowher brought the Steelers to interview several candidates including the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite only one year of experience at the coordinator spot, Mike Tomlin impressed the management in Pittsburgh so much that they made him their new head coach. Retaining many of the same assistants that were present under Cowher, Tomlin sought to keep the Super Bowl mentality strong among his new team. This attitude proved fruitful as he brought them back to the big game in 2008, becoming the youngest head coach ever to win a Super Bowl. This game is best remembered for interception return for a touchdown before the half by linebacker James Harrison and the last minute touchdown caught by Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone as he was amazingly able get his toes down in bounds. Tomlin led his team to the Super Bowl again in 2010, but were defeated by the Green Bay Packers. They have been on the hunt for their next ring ever since.
Last season, the Steelers were a playoff contender yet again. After an impressive 13-3 regular season record which won them the AFC North division, Pittsburgh ran into Jacksonville in the division round of the playoffs. Perhaps underestimating their opponent, the Steelers suddenly found themselves in the midst of an all-out war on the gridiron. When the fourth quarter expired, the stunned Steelers exited the field as the Jaguars defeated them by a score of 45-42.
Following the uncharacteristically early round loss, there is great anticipation for redemption in 2018. The current team is led onto the field by QB Ben Roethlisberger. Entering his 15th season under center, Big Ben has hinted at retirement, but when he looks at the talent around him, it is hard to hang up the helmet and cleats. Franchise tagged for the second straight season, running back Le’Veon Bell is coming off a tremendous 2017 season where he was the 3rd in rushing. Standout wide receiver Antonio Brown earned the title of team MVP along with a fifth consecutive season going over 1,000 yards. He hoped to continue the streak. Darius Heyward-Bey and JuJu Smoth-Schuster also provide reliable targets for Roethlisberger, who lost Martavis Bryant to a trade with the Oakland Raiders at the NFL draft. The offensive line, featuring Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Alejandro Villanueva do a great job giving Ben time and space in the pocket.
The defensive unit will experience a major change this season after the retirement of James Harrison. While it is not yet apparent who will become the new leader on defense, there is certainly a wealth of great players from which to choose. Contributions from players such as Cameron Heyward, TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, Joe Haden, and Morgan Burnett are vital to the continued success of this franchise. Another addition comes via the draft with Terrell Edmunds joining the Steelers as a first round pick to start at safety.
A legendary franchise, the Steelers have had the privilege of being the team to employ other incredibly talented players such as Troy Polamalu, Jerome Bettis, Rod Woodson, and Hines Ward. Additional information pertaining to the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as about the current squad can be found by clicking here.