The Pittsburgh Steelers may well have the best offensive unit that they’ve ever had, an assertion supported by the fact that they have scored more points—and averaged more points per game—in 2014 than they ever have in the history of the franchise.
And there’s no doubt that the defensive-minded city’s team has been driven by that offense this season, finishing the year ranked seventh in points per game, averaging 27+ points, which is right where they finished in the season finale. Of course, seven of those points came off a punt return.
While the running game has struggled over the last three weeks, second-year running back Le’Veon Bell nonetheless finished second in the league both in rushing and in yards from scrimmage. He may have been nearly 500 yards behind the rushing leader, but he added over 850 receiving yards to come awfully close to grabbing the league lead in the latter category.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also had quite arguably the best season of his career, becoming the first Steelers quarterback to lead the league in passing yardage, shattering his own team record by nearly throwing for 5000 yards. He finished the season tied with Drew Brees for the league lead with 4952 yards.
More than that, he also posted his best numbers, matching a career-high with 32 touchdowns passes—also a team record—while throwing only nine interceptions, a ratio of 3.55—also the best of his career.
To add to the accolades, Roethlisberger also posted a career-best in completion percentage, completing over 67.1 percent of his passes, all the while averaging over 8.1 yards per pass attempt, which is better than his career average.
Then there’s Antonio Brown, who after last night holds all of the major single-season receiving statistics with his seven-catch, 128-yard, one-touchdown performance under the Heinz Field lights.
Brown, in fact, recorded the second-most receptions in a season ever, finishing the year with 129. The previous team record of 112 is now well in the rearview mirror. He also has posted seasons of 110 receptions or more in consecutive seasons.
His 1698 yards is nearly 200 yards more than the franchise mark that he set last year, which was already well ahead of the previous franchise-best. He also recorded his 13th touchdown reception on a 63-yard breakaway to put the Steelers up by two possessions late, a clutch play that broke a tie for the most receiving touchdowns in a season in team history.
Oh, and he also threw a touchdown pass and returned a punt for a touchdown this season.
Now, there are plenty of other admirable pieces within the Steelers’ offense, without whom this trio wouldn’t be able to do what it does on a weekly basis.
But there’s no question that this group of triplets is the key to Pittsburgh’s future, both in this playoff run and in the next few seasons. Where they go, the team goes, and that’s simply the truth.