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3. Ben Roethlisberger covered up a lot of problems for the Steelers this year.
I'm still not sure how the Steelers went 12-4 this year. I can't remember a time when they really looked like a dominant team. They just kept grinding out victories, with Roethlisberger scrambling around and making big plays whenever they really needed one. But eventually, all the injuries took their toll. Roethlisberger's touchdown throw to Jerricho Cotchery was just incredible, literally one of the best throws I've seen all season, and Roethlisberger does that kind of thing regularly. But Pittsburgh's defense, in the end, still looks like it lost a step this year. I don't care what the numbers say -- even if they were ranked as the best defense in the league, they let down in big moments. They didn't force turnovers, and against Houston, Baltimore and Denver, they gave up big plays that cost them the game. The Broncos' decision to call a play-action pass on the first play of overtime was brilliant, because the Steelers essentially had nine men in the box. I think Mike Tomlin should have to answer for his decision to let Roethlisberger talk his way into playing against San Francisco and Cleveland with a bad ankle. That decision helped do the Steelers in.
January 8, 2012