It may not have quite felt like it, but the Pittsburgh Steelers just capped off one of their most successful regular season campaigns in team history. And I don’t mean just because their 13-3 final record is tied for the fourth-best based on winning percentage with the 2001 team. Or because they posted a franchise-best 56 sacks.
I am talking about the fact that they managed to put up points. And unfortunately for some, that does have something to do with having success on offense, even if that means potentially being forced to acknowledge that Todd Haley has not single-handedly ruined the team.
The offense did get some help in scoring, of course, although that is virtually always the case for every team in every season. The special teams unit scored two touchdowns this season, one on a blocked punt and another on a kick return. The defense also recorded a safety. The rest was on the offense.
Officially, the Steelers scored 43 touchdowns on the season, with 41 being produced by the offense. Ben Roethlisberger threw 28 touchdown passes, with nine going to Antonio Brown, six to JuJu Smith-Schuster, three to Martavis Bryant and Jesse James, two to Le’Veon Bell, and one apiece to Roosevelt Nix, Xavier Grimble, Justin Hunter, Vance McDonald, and Eli Rogers. Landry Jones threw a touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster as well.
On the ground, there were actually four different contributors this season. Bell posted a career-high nine rushing touchdowns, while Nix recorded the first of his career on a one-yard fullback dive. In the season finale, Darrius Heyward-Bey recorded a score on a 29-yard reverse, his second explosive rushing touchdown in as many years. In the same game, the newest Steeler, Stevan Ridley, added to the total with his first since 2014.
Add in a pair of two-point conversions by Brown and Bryant, 35 extra points, and 35 field goals, and that all adds up 390 points. For the season, the offense scored an average of 24.4 points per game. But the rest of the team added an additional 16 points.
The 406 points scored this season is the fifth-most in team history, averaging 25.4 points per game, which doesn’t quite fit in with the narrative that Haley has held back the progress of the offense.
As a matter of fact, over the course of the past four seasons, the Steelers have put up four of their top six scoring seasons in franchise history. According to Dom Rinelli, 2014’s 436 points scored and 2015’s 423 are the highest totals in team history. They also scored 399 points last season. The only other teams to top that mark were the 1979 Super Bowl champions and the 1995 runner-ups.
The #Steelers rank 7th in the NFL (4th in AFC) with 378 points in 2017
Pittsburgh has scored at least 400pts in 2 of the last 4 seasons (2014: 436 & 2015: 423), & 399 pts in 2016
With 22pts on Sunday, the Steelers will record the 5th season in team history with at least 400pts pic.twitter.com/iL8kDxuuWc
— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) December 28, 2017
The Steelers finished the regular season eighth in scoring, and truth be told, there wasn’t much separation between eight and five—less than a point per game. The top four scoring teams—the Rams, Patriots, Eagles, and Saints—all topped 28 points per game. It should be noted that the Steelers finished the back half of the season averaging 30 points per game.