Well, the 2009 season is a wrap for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite beating the Miami Dolphins 30-24, the Steelers didn’t get the help that they needed from other teams in order to get into the playoffs. So the team goes into the off-season with lots of questions to answer.
But before we get to that, let’s review the game. Several players had especially good performances that are worth noting. Firstly, LaMarr Woodley had his coming out party in 2009. With Troy Polamalu on the sideline, Woodley became the most dominant member of the defense. Woodley showed no mercy to Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, despite the fact that they were college teammates at Michigan. Woodley sacked Henne twice, and pressured him many more times.
Willie Parker also had a very good game. Despite not being utilized very much this season, Parker rushed for 91 yards on 12 carries against the Dolphins. That was a nice final performance as he enters free agency. Good luck next year, Willie. You won’t be playing for the Steelers.
Big Ben also had a very good game. He threw 3 touchdowns without an interception. 2009 was a great year for Big Ben.
The Steelers’ cornerbacks finally got an interception. Both Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend got interceptions against the Dolphins. It’s too bad they also made Dolphins 3rd string QB Tyler Thigpen look like Dan Marino.
Mike Wallace also had a good game. He caught another long touchdown pass. I knew this kid was going to be good. I could see it back in training camp. I even wrote about it here.
Finally, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called a pretty good game. I’ve been pretty tough on Arians this season, so I owe it to him to point out when he calls a good game. Bruce actually called a pretty balanced game. He used his running backs 32 times, and called pass plays 28 times. You can’t get much more balanced than that. Moreover, Ben had a great game while the backs rushed for almost 200 yards. See, you CAN run the ball and pass it too. Of course Arians did call for that asinine pass by Santonio Holmes. But I’m going to ignore that, and focus on the positive. Good game, Bruce.
But despite their victory over the Dolphins, Sunday was not a happy day for the Steelers. The bad news started early, and just kept on coming.
The bad news started when the Houston Texans beat the New England Patriots. The Steelers needed the Texans to lose more than any other team. Once the Texans won, the Steelers needed the Oakland Raiders to beat the Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders were actually beating the Ravens, but then their quarterback got hurt and they had to call on JaMarcus Russell. The moment JaMarcus Russell came into the game for the Raiders, any hope the Steelers might have had went out the window. Russell is probably the worst quarterback in the NFL. Having to depend on him to win a game is like depending on Whitney Houston to say “no” to crack; it’s just not going to happen. So the Raiders lost, and the Ravens were in the playoffs. Then, to toss salt in the wound, the Cincinnati Bengals completely shut it down against the New York Jets. Not that it mattered at that point, but I’m sure the Bengals enjoyed knowing that they did absolutely nothing to help the Steelers’ chances.
So the Steelers now head into the off-season with a long list of questions. Will Casey Hampton be signed to a new contract? Will Ryan Clark be with the team next year? Will Troy Polamalu’s knee heal completely? Will Willie Gay get burned for touchdowns even when the Steelers aren’t playing? Will Bruce Arians return as offensive coordinator? Will the Steelers hire a new special teams coach? Will Jeff Reed be back for another season with the Steelers, or will he get arrested first and force the Steelers to let him go?
The Steelers won’t be in the playoffs, but the off-season is still going to be very exciting for Steeler Nation. The team has lots of questions to answer. I expect this team to make significant changes in the months to come. Stay tuned.
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