To date, no member of the Pittsburgh Steelers has ever won the Offensive Player of the Year Award. A fair number of their defensive counterparts have claimed similar honors, most recently Troy Polamalu in 2010, and James Harrison in 2008, but the offensive side has never seen the black and gold.
No, the Steelers tend to do their damage in shorter bursts, and that has been particularly the case lately. Over the course of the past four seasons, Pittsburgh has had the Offensive Player of the Month for the month of December, with Antonio Brown at wide receiver and Le’Veon Bell at running back accounting for all four of them.
The AFC Offensive Player of the Month for the month of December/January in each of the past four seasons was awarded to a #Steelers player
2014: WR Antonio Brown (@AB84)
2015: WR Antonio Brown (Dec/Jan)
2016: RB Le’Veon Bell (@L_Bell26) (Dec/Jan)
2017: RB Le’Veon Bell pic.twitter.com/4typ4c2ugf
— Dom Rinelli (@drinelli) January 4, 2018
While Brown won it in 2014 and 2015 Bell has had the two most recent, and it’s easy to see why. Let’s take them one by one.
Starting with this past December slate of games, Bell played his best football of the year, even while resting for the final game, on the final day of the month—and the year. Across four games, he rushed only 69 times, relatively light for him, but he gained 310 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He scored four times on the ground and twice through the air, adding 259 receiving yards on 24 receptions. In all, he gained 569 yards of offense on 93 touches with six touchdowns.
Bell was also named the offensive player of the month for December last year as well, despite, again, not playing in the final game. Over those four games, he was pounded into the ground, rushing 110 times and accumulating a stellar 569 yards on the ground alone, averaging over five yards per carry and scoring four times. He added another 179 receiving yards on 18 receptions with another touchdown.
Brown earned the Offensive Player of the Month honors in December during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, so we’ll take a look at his run during those periods next.
During the 2015 season, the Steelers played in five games (including into January, which counts in this case). During those five games, Brown caught 51 receptions, averaging a nearly comical 10.2 receptions per game.
And with those 51 receptions, he accumulated 642 yards through the air, or 128.4 yards per game. He scored five receiving touchdowns over that span as well, and caught over 75 percent of his targets during that span. He also returned a punt for a touchdown, but that doesn’t count.
The year before that, during the month of December in 2014, there were only four December games, but Brown still put up impressive—though less absurd—numbers. He caught 33 passes, averaging about eight per game, for 440 receiving yards—I hope you can easily divide that by four for yourself—with two touchdowns. He had yet another punt return touchdown, but it still doesn’t count.
Suffice it to say that the Steelers offense has very frequently owned the month of December, finishing off seasons strong, in recent years.