The 2013 season was a roller-coaster ride for the Pittsburgh Steelers to say the least.
An 0-4 start to the season dug Mike Tomlin’s team a huge hole, and after a blowout loss to the New England Patriots left the Steelers at 2-6, they were all but left for dead. However, a 6-2 finish to the season restored some pride in this team as they came very close to returning to the postseason.
But at the end of the day, this is a team that has finished 8-8 for the second consecutive season, missing the playoffs on both occasions. Nothing screams mediocrity like the past two Steelers seasons.
While there were some good things along the way, this team still ranked 20th in the NFL in offense and 13th in defense.
It was without a doubt a disappointing season, but the end to this season was much different from the prior 8-8 team. While that team collapsed down the stretch, this team played its best football of the year at the end.
That alone should give Steelers fans a bit of hope heading into the 2014 season.
It’s time to hand out my year-end grades for the 2013 Steelers:
Quarterback: It was a slow start for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as he was under a ton of pressure early in the season and tried to force the issue a lot as the Steelers were often playing from behind and the mistakes piled up. But at the end of the day Big Ben put together one of his best seasons as a pro and became the undisputed leader of this team.
Working with a young offense all around, Roethlisberger had more input in the offense than ever before and once offensive coordinator Todd Haley gave him the keys to the car and removed the handcuffs, this offense took off. More importantly, Ben stayed healthy and was able to start and finish all 16 games.
His 4,261 yards, 64.2 completion percentage and 28 touchdowns to 14 interceptions were outstanding numbers. He looked as comfortable in the offense as he has ever been and at the end of the day this Steelers team would have been a one- or two-win team without him. Sometimes Steelers fans don’t know how good they have it in Big Ben. He’s only 31 years old and if the last eight weeks of the season are any indication, 2014 could be a huge year for Roethlisberger as well. Grade: A-