If there is anything that people love more than football, it is arguing over football. Who has the better team, the better players or the better coaches; arguments like this have been around since the dawn of time. Okay, maybe not since the dawn of time but you get the point. Owning the bragging rights of rooting for the top team is what fuels the competitive aspect of the sport.
A few days ago, NFL.com writer Tom Blair wrote a piece on the top ten teams of the decade, which surely brought its fair share of controversial opinions. Below is Blair’s list.
- 2013 Seattle Seahawks
- 2015 Carolina Panthers
- 2017 Philadelphia Eagles
- 2016 New England Patriots
- 2013 Denver Broncos
- 2015 Arizona Cardinals
- 2012 San Francisco 49ers
- 2011 Green Bay Packers
- 2018 Kansas City Chiefs
- 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars
Anyone can look at that list and spend more than a good amount of time finding its faults but a few things stand out from Blair’s list. First, only three of the ten teams listed went on to win the Super Bowl and second, the Pittsburgh Steelers are notably absent from the list. While it is true that the Steelers have zero Lombardi Trophies and just one Super Bowl appearance, a loss to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV, since the turn of the decade, the team has not been short on success during this span.
The Steelers have not had a losing season yet this decade, with back to back 8-8 seasons in 2012 and 2013 being the lowest the team has sunk. While those two lowlight seasons would be deemed mediocre by the team’s own standard, it has not prevented the Steelers from recording a 94-49-1 record since 2010 with only the New England Patriots totalling more victories.
Since 2010, there are a few Steelers’ teams that could make a case for being the biggest snubs on Blair’s list of top ten teams of the decade.
The first team that comes to mind is the 2010 Steelers, who finished with a 12-4 record and traveled to Super Bowl XLV, only to come up just short against the Packers. The 2010 team had a modern-day Steel Curtain defense while also holding claim to a 3000-yard passer, a 1200-yard rusher and 1200-yard receiver.
Led by Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, the Steelers allowed the fewest points per game (14.5) while also leading the NFL in sacks with 48. The team’s run defense was as stout as run defenses come, allowing an NFL best 62.8 rushing yards per game while Polamalu added seven of the team’s 21 interceptions, good for fifth most in the NFL. Even with Ben Roethlisberger’s four game suspension, the Steelers managed to go 3-1 in his absence, holding the opposing teams to 9,11,13 and 17 points in Roethlisberger’s absence.
The 2017 Steelers are another team that could make a good case for an inclusion on the top teams of the decade. Though the season ended in huge disappointment with a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the divisional round, the team was equally dominant on both sides of the football for majority of the year.
Both the team’s offense and defense finished in the NFL’s top ten for points per game as the offense averaged 25.4 points per game while the defense allowed an average of 19.3 points per game. Roethlisberger tallied over 4000 yards and wide receiver Antonio Brown was commanding to be in the conversation for NFL MVP before a calf injury forced him to miss the final two games of the regular season. Le’Veon Bell stayed healthy and also put up nearly 2000 yards from scrimmage and as if that was not enough the team also saw the emergence of rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The 2017 Steelers likely could have cracked Blair’s list of top teams of the decade had they finished but unfortunately the team’s defense seemed to come apart following the injury to Ryan Shazier, allowing over 24 points in four of the final five games of their season.
Other teams that deserve an honorable mention are the 2014 Steelers, which saw the emergence of Martavis Bryant and the ‘Killer Bs’ and the 2015 Steelers, which made a run to the Divisional Round but were stopped short by the eventual Super Bowl Champions after injuries to Roethlisberger and Brown.
The Steelers’ track record since 2010 shows a lot of promise but an equal amount of disappointment. There is no doubt that the team was talented but injuries, drama and quick playoff exits left a lot of potential on the table. Now in 2019, the team can attempt to make one last bid for success before turning a new chapter into a new decade.