When you look back at the past decade of Pittsburgh Steelers football you will notice a couple of things. Most prominently how much talent has been on the roster, the lack of playoff success, and the amount of high profile injures. With the Steelers injured reserve seemingly growing by the week we are rapidly approaching ‘injuries ruined the season’ territory. So today we will look back at the past 10 years of Steelers football and how each season was effected by injury.
Notable injuries: Rashard Mendenhall, Aaron Smith
The 2011 season was a fairly successful one for the Steelers. Finishing 12-4 but losing the AFC North the Steelers were force to travel to 8-8 Denver for wildcard weekend. It’s hard to blame injuries for this famous playoff as Demaryius Thomas took overtimes first play 80 yards for a touchdown. A putrid game plan from Dick LeBeau gave the equally bad Tim Tebow minutes to throw in the pocket. The Broncos would lose by 35 points the following week to the New England Patriots.
In this instance the 2011 Steelers were a relatively healthy team, but the worst game planned game of Lebeau’s tenure ended the season way too soon.
Notable injuries: Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor
A severe calf strain limited Troy Polamalu’s season to just seven games, and Ike Taylor would miss the Steelers final four games. The defensive back field was so depleted the Steelers would lose five of their final seven games finishing the year 8-8. Ben Roethlisberger also missed three games this year. His replacements would go 1-2 in those games.
Notable injuries: Maurice Pouncey, Lamar Woodley, Larry Foote
Injuries didn’t so much cause the Steelers to once again finish the season 8-8 but a 0-4 start to the season. Some notable veterans missed time due to injury however the emergence of Vince Williams and Jason Worilds softened the blow.
Notable injuries: Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu
The 2014 season marked the last truly healthy season for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The problems stood with its agin defensive unit and inexperienced offense. The 2014 offseason marked the end of the Troy Polamalu era as the organization forced him into retirement for salary cap purposes.
Notable injuries: Kelvin Beachum, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, DeAngelo Williams
This one hurts. If the Steelers had one year set up for them to make a run for a Super Bowl over the past decade, this was it. Despite the laundry list of injuries the Steelers were a Fitzgerald Touissant fumble away from knocking off the eventual Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos. The worst part about this was a lot of the marquee injuries were brought to you by Vontaze Burfict. Burfict single handily tore Le’Veon Bells MCL, gave Antonio Brown a career altering concussion, and sprained Ben Roethlisberger’s AC joint in his throwing shoulder.
Notable injuries: Cameron Heyward, Le’Veon Bell
During the 2016 post season Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell went god-mode breaking the rushing yards in a playoff game record in two consecutive weeks. But in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots Bell immediately pulled his groin and would be taken out for the remainder of the game. Without their Bell-cow the Steelers were devoid of offense and were blown out of the game.
Notable injuries: Ryan Shazier
The 2017 Steelers were a special group, one that seemed destined to make a run at the Super Bowl. The Killer B’s were firing on all cylinders and had a stud rookie as the teams third receiver, Juju Smith-Schuster. Defensively, the Steelers brought in Joe Haden, and T.J. Watt during the offseason and they made instant impacts. But it was Ryan Shazier who was the crown jewel of Steelers defense. Shazier’s career would end and his life tragically altered when a routine tackle went awry.
Defensively the team was never the same, and would give up 45 points to the Blake Bortles led Jacksonville Jaguars in a one and done playoff disappointment.
Notable injuries: Marcus Gilbert
The Steelers 2018 season wasn't derailed by physical injuries by any means. But it was two separate off field distractions that sunk the Steelers season. Starting with Le’Veon Bell’s will he or won't he contract hold out which was a major distraction for the team until the deadline passed. Secondly, this was the year Antonio Brown went completely insane. It has since been rumored that the Steelers repressed Brown’s insanity but in 2018 he walked out on the team and had a very public falling out with the organization. All this distraction and still the Steelers were extremely close to making the playoffs.
Notable injuries: Ben Roethlisberger, Stephon Tuitt
The 2019 season is still fresh in everyone heads. But for these of the exercise lets recount the Steelers losing their future hall of fame quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger missed 14.5 games due to multiple torn ligaments in his throwing elbow. This led the Steelers down a very dark path but saw the club victorious many more times then it should have been. The Steelers defense pushed elite status and nearly willed this team into the playoffs. They even did it without Stephon Tuitt for most of the season who at the point of his injury was the teams unquestioned best player.
Notable injuries: Devin Bush, Bud Dupree, Zack Banner, Robert Spillane, Matt Feiler
Without getting overly dramatic the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers are beginning to push toward the 2015 Steelers team for the most devastatingly injured Steelers team in the past decade. The Steelers linebacking wit is a shell of what it was to start the season, and its offensive line will be without two impact starts for huge chunks of time. The organization cannot survive losing another high impact starter and want to remain a Super Bowl hopeful. For a defense that many thought might be remembered as one of the all time great unit injury will likely rob this group of that title.
What do you think? What year was the most disappointing because of injury? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below!