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Old 01-02-2011, 10:51 AM   #1
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Default Big Ben's drama tops Steelers' list of stories

Big Ben's drama tops Steelers' list of stories
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday January 1, 2010 11:54 PM

CLEVELAND — On and off the field, the Steelers were prolific newsmakers in 2010.

Their season may not be over. They’ll be the playoffs, either as a division champ or wild card pending today’s outcome against the Browns. So it remains to be seen if it’ll be a super season for the Steelers.

But without a doubt, it’s been one of the most eventful years it franchise history.

So without further adieu, here are the top 10 Steelers’ stories of the year:

1. Roethlisberger accused of sexual assault

The Steelers franchise was stunned on March 5 when it was revealed that Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault for the second time in less than a year. The Rooney family was so upset with Roethlisberger that they considered trading him. As it turned out, Roethlisberger was not charged by police. But he was suspended four games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

The encouraging news for the Steelers and their franchise quarterback is that Roethlisberger seems to have turned his personal life around. And on the field, he’s played well since his suspension ended and has helped put the Steelers (11-4) in position to win another AFC North Division title.

2. Harrison fined four times by NFL

In its crackdown on flagrant hits, the NFL seemed to targed Steelers linebacker James Harrison as the poster boy for its campaign. Harrison was fined four times for a total of $125,000 including three fines for hits on opposing quarterbacks.

Harrison was hit for $75,000 fine when he drilled Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi on Oct. 17. But Thursday, the NFL reduced that fine to $50,000.

3. Pouncey lives up to first-round billing

For just the second time in franchise history and the first time since 1937, the Steelers used their first-round draft pick on a center.

Based on how he’s played as a rookie, Maurkice Pouncey will continue the Steelers’ proud lineage at center that includes Hall of Famer Mike Webster (1974-1988) and potential Hall of Famer Dermontti Dawson (1988-2000).

Last week, Pouncey was named to the Pro Bowl team. Webster and Dawson didn’t make it to the Pro Bowl until their fifth pro seasons. Pouncey is still only 21 years old.

4. Steelers make playoffs again

Regardless of what happens today in Cleveland, the Steelers have already qualified for the Super Bowl tournament. That makes three playoff appearances for the Steelers during the first four years of the Mike Tomlin regime.

If the Steelers beat the Browns today, they’ll win the AFC North for the third time in the past four years and clinch the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

5. Reed released after Nov. 14 meltdown

It’s one thing to miss a 26-yard field goal as Jeff Reed did in a loss to New England. But it’s another thing to go off a tirade like Reed did after the game against the Patriots in which he ripped into the conditions at Heinz Field and then criticized Steelers fans and the media.

Despite two minor brushes with the law in recent years, Reed was still one of the most popular players in the Steelers’ locker room. But his season started off poorly in training camp when he basically called the Rooneys liars for not signing him to a contract extension.

Then things got worse for Reed once the season started. Before he was cut, he connected on only 15-of-22 field goal tries and was 0-of-4 from between 40 and 49 yards.

6. Polamalu named team MVP

Since Troy Polamalu was taken in the first round of the 2003 draft, Polamalu has made the Pro Bowl six times. But this year was the first time he’s been named the Steelers’ Most Valuable Player. More honors may still come his way. He’s a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

7. Adams signed to replace Colon

The Steelers received discouraging news in mid July when right tackle Willie Colon suffered a season-ending Achilles’ tendon tear. Colon may have been the team’s best offensive lineman last year.

But just before training camp started, the Steelers found Colon’s replacement. They signed 35-year-old Flozell Adams, a former star in Dallas who was cut because the Cowboys didn’t want to pay big bucks for an aging veteran. Adams was due for a $2.5 million roster bonus beside his $5 million base salary.

Adams, who’s being paid $2.5 million this season, has played better than the Steelers could have expected.

8. Arians keeps job as offensive coordinator

In February, there was a report on a Pittsburgh radio station claiming the Steelers were going to fire offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Often since he became O.C. in 2007, Arians has come under fire from fans and some in the media for his play calling and pass-happy offensive philosophies.

As it turned out, Arians wasn’t fired. And it’s turned out to be a wise decision.

Despite a suspect offensive line, running back Rashard Mendenhal has 1,237 rushing yards going into today’s regular-season finale. Wide receiver Mike Wallace has 1,152 receiving yards and ranks second in the league with a 20.2 yards per catch average. And Roethlisberger ranks eighth in the NFL with a 94.3 passer rating with 15 TD passes and only five interceptions.

9. Bad-boy Holmes traded away

In April, the Steelers made a trade that shocked the NFL. They sent wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII, to the Jets for just a fifth-round draft pick.

But as the trade unfolded, it was revealed that Holmes was going to be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

That was the last straw for Holmes, who’d appeared too many times on the police blotter since becoming a Steeler.

10. LeBeau inducted into Hall of Fame

The Steelers believe they have the best defensive coordinator in the NFL. But scheming up ways to stop opposing offenses isn’t what got LeBeau into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was inducted because of the way he played cornerback for the Detroit Lions from 1959-1972. To this day, LeBeau, who’s now 73 years old, is tied for seventh on the NFL’s all-time interceptions list with 62.
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