MIAMI - JANUARY 03: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is lifted into the air by offensive linemen Ramon Foster #73 after Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller #83 in the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The Steelers defeated the Dolphins 30-24. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ben Roethlisberger;Ramon Foster
Just like the Packers, the Steelers got off to a 3-1 start this season.
Unlike the Packers, Pittsburgh had no business doing so.
Falcons, Titans, Bucs and Ravens. That was the Steelers' first four opponents this year and Pittsburgh was without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the year due to his league suspension for his "detrimental conduct off the field" stemming from another sexual assault allegation.
Originally, the suspension was six games, but before the year, NFL commish Roger Goodell reduced it to four games. It probably wouldn't have mattered either way.
Dennis Dixon started the Steelers' opener, a win over the Falcons (one of two defeats Atlanta suffered in the regular season). Charlie Batch started the next three games, and the Steelers came away with just a loss to heated rival Baltimore. Unbelievable.
With Big Ben under center, the Steelers went 9-3, losing to the Saints, Patriots and Jets, and did all that with Flozell Freaking Adams starting at tackle. Way to go, Jerry.
The Steelers earned the second seed in the AFC and a first-round bye, and of course it was only fitting they met the Ravens in the divisional round for another installment of what, for my money, is the ultimate rivalry in the NFL right now. Pittsburgh outlasted Baltimore for a 31-24 win. That brought on the Jets, who notched a 22-17 win over the Steelers in Week 15. This time, the Steelers jumped out to a 24-0 lead before holding on by the skin of their teeth to win 24-19 with the help of a defensive touchdown and a late goal-line stand.
Despite it all, all the controversy, all the adversity, the Steelers are once again here, for the third time in the 2000s.