This was the decade where the Steelers continued to have regular season success but had 6 frustrating playoff failures during this decade. The decade started out fine with the Steelers making it to the Super Bowl, but losing to the Green Bay Packers, in a game that was made close by the Packer receivers’ failure to catch the football. The Steelers were in the same position they were, 2 Super Bowls before, with a chance at a game winning drive late in the 4th quarter, but this time they turned the ball over on downs. Green Bay then ran out the clock to win the game. The Steelers would only get to one Conference Championship game in 5 more playoff tries. Those playoff losses could be attributed to star players not playing, and to some surprise performances from their opponents.
Record For The Decade: 102 Wins 57 Losses 1 Tie
Best Year: 2017 13-3 2010 12-4 Lost Super Bowl.
Worst Year: Three years at 8-8 2012, 2013, and 2019
Why The Steelers Won More Than They Lost: The Decade was built around 3 offensive players who when they were well, were 3 of the best players in franchise history. Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown. Bell played from 2013 to 2017 and in 3 of those years he had around 2000 yards from scrimmage in rushing and receiving. One year he was only able to play 6 games due to suspension and then injury, and his rookie season he put up a little over 1200 yards from the line of scrimmage. Antonio Brown was even more spectacular. For 6 straight seasons Brown caught over 100 passes and gained at least 1200 yards per season with his top year being 2014 when he gained 1698 yards. Ben played for all 10 years, and we know that he is going to the Hall of Fame. The defense had its ups and downs during the decade and also had some bad playoff games. Overall, the defense contributed mightily to the success of the decade.
Significant Games: I always thought the most significant game of the decade was the opening round loss to the Denver Broncos in the 2011 season. We were a wild card team because we had lost the tie breaker to the Baltimore Ravens. The Broncos were 8-8 but that was good enough to win the weak Western Division. We had the no. 1 defense in scoring and total yards in the NFL. We were also no.1 against the pass. This was the game that Tim Tebow decided to have his greatest game, by far, in his NFL career. The next week against New England he would go back to being his mediocre self. He would only start 2 more games for Denver after that playoff loss. On that day against the Steelers, he accounted for 366 yards and 3 TD’s. Denver won 29-23 in overtime and that seemed to set the tone for rest of the Steelers’ playoff runs for the rest of the decade, even continuing into this decade. Tebow had never accounted for 300 yards and 3 TDs in a game before, and he would never do it again. Bell and Brown would only play in 3 full playoff games together winning 2 and losing the 45-42 debacle to the Jacksonville Jaguars where the Steelers played their worst quarter and a half of football in history until the 1st quarter of the 2020 Wild Card game against the Cleveland Browns where they fell behind 28-0.
The Decades Best Player: Ben Roethlisberger was the constant glue that held the team together through thick and thin. According to Pro Football Reference he is the Steelers all-time best player. I could give some argument for that, but certainly for this decade he was by far the best. No question that Bell and Brown had some great stretches during the decade but for various reasons they flamed out quickly and became non-factors for a lot of the decade.
The final full decade that the Steelers’ played football was the decade of playoff frustration. The Steelers have played 3 seasons in the 2020’s and that frustration is continuing. The last 2 years the Steelers have been in the throes of mediocrity. They are having in my view, the most important draft since the early 70’s. They are going to have 3 of the first 51 picks, no. 17, 32, and 51. If the Steelers are going to get out of this rut of playing close to .500 ball but not much better, then these picks better have an immediate impact. I know that is a tall order and a lower pick can always surprise, but if the Steelers are going to get to the next level and finally make a playoff run this needs to happen.