The Pittsburgh Steelers have perhaps the most impressive assemblage of talent on the offensive side of the ball this season than they’ve had in over a decade. More specifically, the Steelers sent a quarterback, a running back, and a wide receiver to the Pro Bowl during the 2001 season, and they will probably do so in 2014.
Back then, it was Kordell Stewart, Jerome Bettis, and Hines Ward, a group that includes two likely Hall of Famers on a unit that won 13 games and lost in the conference finals that season.
This year, the Steelers could send that same trio of quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. The Steelers have not sent a running back to the Pro Bowl since Willie Parker made it in 2007, while 2011 was the last time a quarterback from the team made it. Of course, they did send a wide receiver to the Pro Bowl last season as their lone representative on offense.
That wide receiver is Antonio Brown, who broke franchise records in 2013 in doing so, and is looking to better his own production this year. A season ago, he finished two receptions short of Ward’s team record with 110, while breaking the yardage record with 1499, and also hauled in a career-high eight touchdown passes.
Through half a season this year, Brown already has 60 receptions for 852 yards and seven touchdowns. Oh, and he’s also thrown a touchdown, all while catching over 70 percent of his targets from Ben Roethlisberger.
Speaking of whom, the quarterback is coming off the best game of his career in what could turn out to be the best season of his career. He has been to the Pro Bowl twice, in 2007 and 2011, but he certainly has a strong chance of making it a third time this year.
Roethlisberger is currently one of just three quarterbacks through this week that have completed over 200 passes, though many have of course already had a bye week, while the Steelers have not. He is completing a career-high 68.4 percent of his passes, which ranks third among starters, and his 2380 yards are second only to Andrew Luck.
The veteran is on pace to match his career-high 32 touchdown passes, but has been more protective of the football through the air than ever, averaging less than an interception on every 100 pass attempts, having thrown three interceptions on 301 attempts. He is averaging nearly eight yards per pass, and has a quarterback rating of 105.6, the best of his career.
And then there’s Le’Veon Bell, who is shaping up to be this generation’s Marshall Faulk. Bell ranks 14th in the league, not merely at his position, in receptions, having caught 42 passes in eight games for nearly 400 yards.
He also ranks third in the league in rushing yards with 691, averaging just under five yards per carry, and has a combined nine plays of 20 yards or more on the ground and through the air. He has yet to fumble in 183 touches this season, despite being one of two players to gain at least 100 yards in every game this season.
There was a conversation earlier this year about ‘triplets’, that may have taken place just before the season began, and I argued that the Steelers may have the best in the league already with Roethlisberger, Brown, and Bell. The only team that might be close, especially in terms of balance, is the Dallas Cowboys, in my opinion.