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Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Year in Review: A rocky road with an unknown destination

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 year got off to a rocky start, and the terrain didn't even out too much throughout the calendar year. Take a look back at the year that was for the boys from the Steel City.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Depending on who you talk to, 2015 was an interesting year for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Who can forget the start of the calendar year, watching the Steelers lose to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Wild Card round at Heinz Field as Le'Veon Bell watched from the sidelines. That game kicked off a very quiet offseason for the Steelers which saw them make little commotion in the offseason.

The biggest wave made by the Steelers organization wasn't made by the team itself, but one of the legends to ever wear a black and gold jersey. When Troy Polamalu decided to hang up the cleats, he was joined by several teammates who made the same decision. Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel, both members of the 2014 Steelers, decided enough was enough, and in the blink of an eye, Steelers fans were looking around wondering what a defense will look like without so many recognizable faces no longer in the fold.

After the Steelers' playoff blunder and so many legends stepping away from the team, the Steelers prepared for the offseason, but most importantly the NFL Draft. In the first round the team selected OLB Bud Dupree from Kentucky, and continued to address needs throughout the draft by selecting two cornerbacks, a tight end, a defensive lineman and another outside linebacker in hopes of adding youth to their depth at many key positions.

After the draft came free agency, and the free agency period was status quo for the Steelers. The team brought in DeAngelo Williams to help bolster their running back depth, and to avoid another LeGarrette Blount situation, and no other major moves were made. The team re-signed several players like Antwon Blake, Robert Golden, Arthur Moats and extended the contract of Cameron Heyward keeping their emotional captain of the defense in black and gold for years to come.

The NFL released their schedule and it showed the Steelers having the most difficult schedule of all 32 NFL teams, looking at their opponent's winning percentage from the previous year. Fans pointed to a similar story from the 2008 Steelers, who coincidentally won Super Bowl 43 that season.

Nonetheless, the team prepared for a tough year, but never could have imagined the hills they would be forced to climb from the beginning of the season. Le'Veon Bell was suspended for he and LeGarette Blount's joy ride for the first three games of the season, Martavis Bryant joined him for failing another drug test and being suspended for the first four games of the season.

If losing two of your more dynamic offensive playmakers to start the season wasn't enough, Bryant missed a 5th game due to a knee injury, second round cornerback Senques Golson was placed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury, Maurkice Pouncey was essentially lost for the season after breaking his ankle in the team's second preseason game, kicker Shaun Suisham tore his ACL in the Hall of Fame game, Garrett Hartley injured his hamstring as Suisham's replacement and Josh Scobee kicked his way out of a job through the first 4 weeks of the season.

To add to the growing list of injuries, the team lost Kelvin Beachum with a torn ACL, Ben Roethlisberger missed 4 weeks with a sprained knee, Stephon Tuitt was lost for 3 weeks with his own sprained knee and Ryan Shazier missed a significant portion of the season with his own injury issues.

However, even with all the injuries and suspensions, the Steelers were able to keep their heads above water, and were 9-5 entering their final two games of the 2015 regular season. Coming off back-to-back wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos, the Steelers laid an egg against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16, putting their playoff hopes and dreams in jeopardy.

This brings us to the end of 2015, and although much of the 2015 was skipped over, all the hard work and dedication has all come to a head in Week 17. The Steelers need to start 2016 with a win and a little bit of hope. The team can advance to the AFC Playoffs for the second consecutive season if they are able to beat the Cleveland Browns in the final week of the regular season, and the Buffalo Bills are able to beat the New York Jets in upstate New York.

Sometimes the start of a new year can be like starting anew. With the Steelers turning the page on a very rocky 2015, here is hoping 2016 is a lot smoother. Where will 2016 lead the boys in the black and gold? Fans around the globe hope it starts with a berth into the AFC Playoffs.