The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2010’s with a 15-9 field goal kick off victory over Matt Ryan’s Atlanta Falcons and exited with a 28-10 thrashing at the hands — and legs — of Robert Griffin III and the Baltimore Ravens.
Would it surprise you if neither Steelers quarterback in those games was Ben Roethlisberger?
It was a wild decade for the Steelers, complete with a Super Bowl appearance, a loss in said game, a couple of 8-8 seasons, a few of the greatest offensive performances in team history which only culminated in playoff disappointment, the formation of the Killer B’s, the dissolution of the Killer B’s in dramatic fashion, that Patriots game, the Le’Veon Bell holdout, the Antonio Brown disaster and the Duck Hodges experience.
A lot of outstanding players competed on those squads, some of the best in team history, and two of the best players of the 2010’s, according to the NFL.
Maurkice Pouncey and Antonio Brown were the Steelers’ contribution to the All-2010’s team. While both would assuredly earn the same honor for the Steelers, who else would make the team?
This team is based purely on play from the 2010 through the 2019 season.
Quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger
After much thought, debating heavily between Big Ben and Duck Hodges — OK. It wasn’t that hard.
Big Ben was one of the greatest quarterbacks of the 2010’s. Playing in 131 games from 2010-19, starting 130, Roethlisberger completed 64.8% of his passes for 37,236 yards and 236 touchdowns to just 110 interceptions.
The Steelers went 84-45-1 with Roethlisberger under center during the decade, and the burly gun-slinger was a huge reason why, as his penchant for extending plays with his legs and throwing receivers open led to some marvelous moments.
This one is pretty cut and dry.
Running Backs — Le’Veon Bell, Rashard Mendenhall
This one was a little tougher. Despite lamenting how the Steelers originally passed on Eddie Lacy in favor of Le’Veon Bell — shocking the Steelers knew better than ninth grade me, I know — Bell ended up turning into arguably the best halfback in the league at his peak.
Bell played in 62 games from 2013-17, missing games with a plethora of injures and a drug suspension — damn LeGarette Blount. In that stretch, Bell rushed for 5,336 yards and 35 touchdowns on 1,229 carries. He also caught 312 passes for 2,660 yards and seven additional touchdowns.
The impact Bell had on those teams was invaluable, revolutionizing the game from the halfback position a few years before the likes of Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffery.
The understudy proved much more difficult to decide. It really fell between Mendenhall, James Conner and DeAngelo Williams.
All three follow similar paths, with Conner and Williams each recording 900 yard seasons and not too much else, other than wonderful stories. Both are victims of limited runs during the 2010’s.
Mendenhall was the starting halfback on a Super Bowl squad and had a great season, recording a 1,273 yard, 13 touchdown campaign in 2010. While he never reached the 1,000 yard mark again, he added another 900 yard season before leaving for Arizona in 2013.
While Mendenhall might be known for his supremely costly fumble in Super Bowl XLV, he was one of the top Steelers halfbacks in the 2010’s.
Fullback — Roosevelt Nix
A solid, dependable blocker, occasional contributor to the offense and special teams ace.
Rosie Nix was the prototype of a Steelers fullback from 2015-18.
Wide Receiver — Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, JuJu Smith-Schuster
Antonio Brown was good enough to make the NFL’s all-decade team. He was also good enough to — purely based on on-field resume — lock up a Hall of Fame jacket last decade alone.
From 2013-18, Brown torched NFL defenses during one of the greatest stretches in NFL history. His 686 catches for 9,145 yards and 67 touchdowns over that span cemented him as the best wide receiver in the league. His 9,145 yards alone during that span are more than just 58 players in NFL history.
Before Brown, and ultimately the vacancy that allowed Brown to step in, the man was Mike Wallace.
Big Ben and Wallace served as one of the premier deep threat duos in the NFL as evidenced by Wallace’s absurd 21.0 yards per reception in 2010.
In three seasons with the Steelers, Wallace racked up 196 catches for 3,286 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Of course, a Steelers wide receivers list with Brown wouldn’t be complete without JuJu Smith-Schuster.
After a solid 58 catch, 917 yard rookie season, Smith-Schuster exploded for 111 catches and 1,426 yards in year two. The man affectionately known as JuJu was a large reason why Brown forced his way out of Pittsburgh, and without his veteran counterpart, JuJu struggled as a No. 1 in 2019.
A perfect storm of unfortunate hit the Steelers in 2019, so JuJu’s poor season can’t fall completely on his shoulders. But with Big Ben returning in 2020, JuJu should be on the inside track for making the 2020’s team as well.
Tight End — Heath Miller
Heath Miller was a cult hero in Pittsburgh, for good reason, but it seems like he cursed the position upon retiring after the 2015 season. Which easily slots him into the all-decade team, although it’s not like he wouldn’t have made the team otherwise.
An excellent blocker, Big Ben’s security blanket and more “HEEEEAAAAATHHHH”s than you can imagine.
From 2010-15, Miller racked up 348 catches for 3,848 and 18 touchdowns.
Left Tackle — Alejandro Villanueva
The Steelers offensive line in the 2010’s experienced almost unparalleled continuity and success.
As such, all five offensive line spots are pretty straight forward.
The hulking ex-Army Ranger, one of the greatest stories in the NFL, has manned the left tackle position since 2015.
Left Guard — Ramon Foster
Ramon Foster moved from right to left guard after the 2012 season, allowing fellow all-decade teammate David DeCastro to man the right guard position.
All Foster, a renowned outstanding guy, did after the switch was man his fifth of one of the best offensive lines of the decade.
Foster retired following the 2019 season, marking the end of a very successful career with the Steelers.
Center — Maurkice Pouncey
The second of the Steelers all-decade players, Pouncey has consistently been one of the best centers in the league since being drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
While perhaps being slightly overvalued on a name brand basis, Pouncey has controlled the the line the entirety of the decade and provided a strong, veteran leadership through his time with the Steelers.
Right Guard — David DeCastro
One of the biggest snubs of the NFL’s all-decade team, DeCastro has consistently graded as one of the top right guards in the NFL since being taken in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft and stepping in full time in 2013.
Right Tackle — Marcus Gilbert
The least steady of the offensive line spots over the 2010’s, Marcus Gilbert filled the role in 2011 and from 2013-16. Injuries and a PED suspension led to the end of his Steelers career.
The veteran solidified the right side of the line for a good part of the decade, ranking among the better right tackles in the league, before being traded to the Arizona Cardinals in 2019.
What do you guys think? Is there someone you’d add? Someone you’d take out? How would this offense fare against the NFL all-decade defense from 2010?
Let me know what you think in the comments!