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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 deep playoff contender. After an 11-5 regular season record which won them the AFC North division, Pittsburgh ran thought Miami and narrowly defeated the Kansas City Chiefs before matching up with the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. One step away from another Super Bowl berth, the Steelers came up short against the eventual champions by a score of 36-17. There is no doubt in the minds of the Steelers faithful that the upcoming season will be dedicated to completing the journey and hoisting that Lombardi Trophy.
The current team is led onto the field by QB Ben Roethlisberger. Entering his 14th 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 2017 season, running back Le’Veon Bell is coming off a tremendous 2016 season where he was the 3rd in rushing, despite missing two games to a suspension. Standout wide receiver Antonio Brown aims for a fifth consecutive season with going over 1,000 yards. Eli Rogers and Darius Heyward-Bey also provide reliable targets for Roethlisberger. 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 is led by the ageless James Harrison. Devoted to greatness, he inspires his teammates to reach new heights in their play. Despite not having any other bonafide star players on the defensive side of the ball, Pittsburgh is able to put together numbers that keep them in every game and strike fear in their opponents, especially when the games are played at home at Heinz Field. Contributions from players such as Cameron Heyward, Ryan Shazier, and Mike Mitchell will be vital. Pittsburgh hopes that TJ Watt, their 2017 first round draft pick, can make an immediate impact on defense. Additional information pertaining to the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as about the current squad can be found by clicking here.