If you have stuck with all throughout all four of our previous installments in this series, you have seen special teams plays, defensive turnovers and amazing offensive touchdowns. If you have not had a chance to view all our installments, here is the list we have so far:
Number 4 Play: Markus Wheaton's touchdown vs. Seattle.
Number 5 Play: Martavis Bryant's second touchdown vs. Arizona.
Number 6 Play: Ryan Shazier's forced fumble and recovery from Giovani Bernard in the playoffs.
Number 7 Play: Ryan Shazier's interception vs. Denver.
Number 8 Play: James Harrison's forced fumble vs. Arizona.
Number 9 Play: Antonio Brown's second touchdown vs. Denver.
Number 10 Play: Antwon Blake's interception return touchdown vs. San Diego.
Number 11 Play: Lawrence Timmons' interception vs. Arizona.
Number 12 Play: Stephon Tuitt's interception vs. Cincinnati.
Number 13 Play: Mike Mitchell's interception vs. Arizona.
Number 14 Play: Le'Veon Bell's touchdown vs. Baltimore.
Number 15 Play: Antonio Brown's punt Return touchdown vs. Indianapolis.
So let us get into the top three plays that were above all else this year:
Play Number 3:
This play was an amazing grab reminiscent of Mike Wallace's catch against the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2011, but to a much higher degree because of its stage. In a heated game, just days after Ben Roethlisberger took to the media to urge Martavis Bryant to toughen up for Pittsburgh in the playoffs, Bryant delivered. Though he would only catch six passes for 29 yards, he also had a 44 run and this amazing touchdown. In the third quarter, Pittsburgh needed to build its lead and Bryant makes an insane catch while covered by former first round pick, Dre Kirkpatrick. Not only does Bryant sky up in the rain to make this reception, he secures it the back of his thigh while somersaulting through the end zone. Bryant continued to show that he can be a big star in the NFL this season, and this was his biggest highlight.
Play Number 2:
Just as the Bengals had finished celebrating their interception of fourth string quarterback, Landry Jones, by running 80 yards the opposite direction into the tunnel of Paul Brown Stadium, the Pittsburgh Steelers were busy figuring how they could get themselves back in the game. On the very first play of the Bengals' drive subsequent to the interception, Jarvis Jones gets a hold of Jeremy Hill and stands him up for Ryan Shazier to strip the ball from his hands and have Ross Cockrell recover the fumble.
This play changed the entire course of the playoffs. The entire NFL thought that the Bengals were going to be facing the New England Patriots the next week, Bengals players and fans were celebrating pre-maturely.
Jeremy Hill thought it was funny to celebrate in front of William Gay when the Bengals took the lead from an A.J. Green touchdown in the fourth quarter, but then he was left to cry like a petulant child on the sideline for the rest of the game.
This play embodies part of the spirit of what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. Just as the dawn of the Chuck Noll's dynasty was signified with the Immaculate Reception in a last-chance effort during a playoff game, Pittsburgh made their own opportunities to win this game. While this single play will not stand up to the Immaculate Reception in the annals of NFL history, it certainly is a signifying play that could sound the triumphant return of dominant Steelers defense to the world.
Play Number 1:
This play gets the top of the season for a multitude of reasons.
For one, the determination of the Steelers' running back, Le'Veon Bell is on display for everyone on national television. Bell charged from the wildcat, something the Steelers only did this once, and then had to charge a second time once his first leap was haulted by the Chargers' front. Though he only played in five complete games in 2015, Le'Veon Bell's hard running and wherewithal to stretch the ball out across the line show exactly why he should be a top signing concern for the Steelers moving forward.
The rest of the Steelers also put on one heck of an effort in this situation. The Chargers' safety, Eric Weddle, is arguably their most talented player, but he is snuffed out of this play by fullback, Roosevelt Nix. The rest of the offensive line is able to move enough of the Chargers' defenders out of the way in order to give Bell the best chance to score.
But what also makes this play the best that 2015 had to offer was what it represented. Just the week before, Mike Tomlin faced a ton of criticism about his decision to attempt two fourth down conversions in the hands of Michael Vick and Antonio Brown. This week, Pittsburgh only had five seconds with one timeout and a yard to go while only being down by three points in San Diego. One of Mike Tomlin's best mantras is that "we do not live in our fears," and this play was a perfect example of that.
The Steelers attempted and succeeded in more two point conversions than any other team in the NFL this season because Tomlin has a strong faith in its offensive talents. Instead of going for the tie, Tomlin decided to give the ball to his best player on the field in Bell, which led to a walk-off touchdown that would give Pittsburgh a huge victory that would be every bit contributory to the Steelers' eventual playoff appearance as every other win.
While the Chargers were not a strong team in 2015, their team was good enough to be a problem against the Steelers that were dependent on their third string quarterback in Michael Vick. This play was Mike Tomlin's shout to the world that he fears no criticism any member of the press could place upon him and how he believes in his team.