The Steelers season ended Saturday in a Wildcard game loss to Jacksonville. It was about what I expected.
Despite having the number 1 defense in the NFL, we’d played relatively poorly of late and the loss the Pro Bowl DE Aaron Smith was devastating. Our inability to totally stuff the run hampered a lot of the secondary play. Having Troy Polamalu gimpy didn’t help, but it was really the earlier loss of our other safety, Ryan Clark, that put us in such a bind in terms of pass coverage.
RB Najeh Davenport played well since the injury to RB Willie Parker, but he doesn’t have Parker’s breakaway speed. You simply can’t lose the top rusher in the NFL–which is what Parker was at the time–and expect to have the offense keep chugging along.
Ultimately, though, you’ve got to look to the injuries on the offensive line and say that Marvel Smith and Max Starks are two guys you don’t want to be without. I don’t see how the Steelers can re-sign All-Pro Alan Faneca for next year, but they better do something to improve the offensive line because Big Ben can’t take too many years of nearly 50 sacks.
(Speaking of Roethlisberger, he had a great season. If Tom Brady weren’t putting up stratospheric numbers everybody would be talking about the greatest of Big Ben who’s 104 QB rating and 32 TD vs. 11 picks was phenomenal. Even after the terrible first half against the Jags, he managed a redemptive second half.)
Here’s hoping that next year sees a season with fewer Steeler injuries, and a New England team whose offense is scary good.