You don’t come in first place in your division and win 11 games in the competitive AFC without a team effort. As such, it would be unfair for anybody to list just one Steelers player as the team’s season MVP. However, here are three players who truly played above and beyond in 2014.
3. I could say that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a fantastic season under center in 2014, but that would be rather akin to saying water is wet, isn’t it? Big Ben has been so good for so long (he does have three Super Bowl appearances and two rings, after all) that it’s easy to take his excellence for granted. This year though was something else, even by his solid standards. Career highs in completion percentage, touchdowns, passing yards, and a career low in interceptions (over a 16 game season). Wow.
2. Running back LeVeon Bell took a major leap forward in his sophomore season, upping per carry average by 1.2 yards and rushing for 1300+ yards overall. He had a touchdown-to-fumble ratio of 8-0. That’s right, zero fumbles in sixteen games, an incredibly valuable trait for any running back. He was such a revelation that the Pro Football Writers of America voted him the Most Improved Player of the Year. Unfortunately, through no fault of Bell’s own, his fantastic season was marred by a Week 17 injury that forced him to sit out the Steelers’ playoff loss to Baltimore. Had he been at full strength for that game is a major “What If” that Steelers fans with have to grapple with all off-season.
1. Great as Roethlisberger and Bell were, the closest thing to an MVP that Pittsburgh had all year was wide receiver Antonio Brown. In a league that is passing the ball with great frequency than ever, Brown was the best at his position all year. A league leading 1698 yards receiving. 13 TDs. He’s the best weapon Big Ben has had since he was chucking it to Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress almost a decade ago, and when all’s said and done he’ll probably have a better career than both. In fact, he was so good this year that he wasn’t just named to the Pro Bowl – he was named the AFC’s captain. In a year in which a lot of Steelers were very good, Brown wasn’t very good. He was borderline transcendent.
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