The season had it’s highlights, lowlights, and downright ugly moments, and while we’ll have plenty of time to go though it all, here are just a few of the good, bad and ugly from Mike Tomlin’s first non-playoff season as Steelers head coach.
Big Ben Goes Wild – The Steelers QB became one of the best QB’s in the NFL in 2009. His record breaking 500+ yard throwing day vs the Packers will go down as one of the great moments in Steelers history. He set a franchise record with 4328 yards, 26 TD’s and 12 picks. No matter what, it was truly a great season for Roethlisberger.
Going the Other Way on Defense -A Steelers defense that put together one of the best seasons in NFL history the year before looked old during some critical moments of 2009. They ended at fifth overall, but were 16 against the pass after leading the league last year. They allowed too many big plays, and a healthy Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith will help in 2010.
Blowing Leads – It almost became funny how this team week in and week out would look great for three quarters, then become a totally different team in the fourth quarter. I wonder how many hands across Steeler Nation were broken punching walls as guys like Louis Murphy beat the Steelers late. In the end, the Steelers lost five times after leading in the fourth quarter. They gave up a remarkable 135 points in that quarter, third most in the NFL, including a combined 43 points in successive home games against the Raiders and Packers.
Rookie Pass Catcher – Mike Wallace was the rookie of the year for the Steelers, and his season and big play ability cannot be overlooked. 39 catches for 756 yards and 6 touchdowns. He overtook Limas Sweed early in the season, and showed that he can run just about past anyone. Not bad for a third round pick expected to sit the bench most of the year.
Kick Coverage – It became routine to see a returner lick his chops coming to play the Steelers, usually because it meant a score was coming. The team allowed a record setting amount of returns for scores, once again allowing one to Josh Cribbs, and then one vs San Diego and then even another one in KC. It got better by the end of the year, but was still hard to watch.
A Bust? – It’s just two years, but the vibe seems to point to Limas Sweed being a wasted draft pick. The team gave him every shot to be the #3 wide out, but a drop in Cincy that could have sealed the win, then one early in Detroit landed him on the inactive list most of the year. Then with the team struggling with injured receivers, they put him on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury/Illness List. The injury has yet to be announced, but his Steeler career is in serious doubt.
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