A Look Back at the Magical 2015 Season

By Jacob Jensen

When you’re a Steelers fan, every season is expected to end with a Lombardi trophy. Often times that leads to disappointment since it is so hard to win championships in the NFL. But sometimes it’s a good idea to go back and look at past non-super bowl winning seasons and reflect on the accomplishments achieved and appreciate the season, even if it didn’t end in a championship.

The 2015 season was a magical season of ups and downs for the Steelers. They faced many obstacles and triumphed more than they failed.  It was a season full of nail biting.

Before the season even started, the Steelers lost their starting kicker for good. In the Hall of Fame game against the Vikings, kicker Shaun Suisham tore his ACL while trying to make a tackle on the kick return. The Steelers kicking woes continued when kicker Garrett Hartley pulled a hamstring, landing him on the IR and later released. The Steelers would sign Josh Scobee to replace him.

The season started off with a disappointing 28-21 loss  to the reigning Super Bowl champs New England Patriots. The Patriots took a 21-3 lead in the 3rd and coasted to an easy victory. The next week the Steelers would bounce back with a dominating victory over the San Francisco 49ers, 43-18. 15 of the 18 points came in the 4th for the 49ers. In week 3 it looked like the Steelers season was already in jeopardy.  Midway through the third quarter, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took what looked like a devastating knee injury when current Steeler Mark Barron rolled up on his left leg. He would leave the game, with Michael Vick replacing him. The Steelers would go on to win this game 12 to 6.

After Roethlisberger’s injury was announced to keep him out 4-6 weeks, the Steelers took on the Ravens in Pittsburgh. Late in the 4th quarter, the Steelers had a slim lead and were looking for a cushion. On two separate occasions the Steelers were in field goal range when new kicker Josh Scobee missed both chances. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker would go on to tie the game with 3 seconds left, and then win it in overtime.

The next week the Steelers played the then San Diego Chargers on MNF. Lead by Mike Vick and Le’veon Bell, the Steelers won in walk-off fashion as Bell scored the game winning touchdown as time expired. The next week the Steelers were knocked down to their 3rd string quarterback when Mike Vick pulled a hammy mid game. But Landry Jones would come through and lead the Steelers to a 25-13 win over the Cardinals. In week 7 Landry Jones got the start in Kansas City. The Steelers would end up losing to the winless Chiefs 23-13.

In week 8 Ben Roethlisberger came back, after the Steelers went 2-2 in his absence. The Steelers would take on the Bengals in Pittsburgh, but ended up losing 16-10, dropping down to 4-4 on the season. To add insult to injury, the Steelers also lost running back Le’veon Bell for the season with a torn MCL.

In the next game the Steelers beat the Raiders 38-35. Landry Jones had to finish the game for Big Ben, who left with a foot injury. The next game Landry Jones started but was later replaced by Ben Roethlisberger, who also left with an injury. Big Ben would lead the Steelers to a 30-9 victory. The next week, the Steelers lost a shootout to the Seahawks 30-39. They dropped to 6-5.

In week 17, the Steelers did their part by defeating the Browns 28-12.  Now it was up to the Bills. The Bills would end up winning, as many of us know. Steeler fans were met with cheers as they ran to the locker room. The Steelers had snuck into the playoffs.

The Steelers would end up playing the AFC north champs, the Cincinnati Bengals. The tension that has been building up since week 17 of the 2014 season would finally blow up in what is my favorite Steelers game ever. The Steelers would score the first points of the game with a field goal in the second quarter. They would also make another field goal in second, going up 6-0 at halftime. The Steelers would go on to score 9 more points in the 3rd, another field goal and a touchdown by Martavis Bryant. On the final drive of the quarter, Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of the game due to a sack by Vontaze Burfict. The Steelers would take a 15-0 lead into the fourth. On the first drive in the 4th, quarterback AJ McCarron would lead the Bengals down the field, aided by a 42 yard pass interference call, and score their first points of the game.  The Steelers would then give the ball right back after 4 plays and a punt. Then, the Bengals would drive down and make a field goal, making it a 15-10 game with 5:17 left. On the next drive, the Steelers would go 3 and out, only gaining 7 yards. With the ball at the PIT 45, it only took the Bengals 1:38 to score the go ahead touchdown, leaving only 1:56 on the clock. The score would be 16-15 due to a failed 2-point attempt. Landry Jones came back in at QB with a chance to be the hero. On the first play, Jones attempted a pass to Marcus Wheaton, but had it picked off by Pittsburgh villain Vontaze Burfict. This surely meant the end of the Steelers season. All the Bengals had to do was run out the clock. I remember sitting on my living room floor, taking it all in because this would be the last time I saw my Steelers till August.

But then the ball was on the ground. The Steelers had it. Don’t get too excited, I told myself. His knee had to be down. But then the replayed showed it was out just before the knee touched, and then Ben came running back onto the field, and all of a sudden the Steelers had a pulse. The Steelers had the ball at their own 9 with 1:23 left, only down by 1. First pass was an 8 yard dump off to Bryant and you could tell Ben’s shoulder was really bugging him. But he pushed through. The Steelers would continue to drive until they were at the Bengals 47 with 22 seconds left and only no timeouts. Ben dropped back and through it over the middle. It went over AB’s head as he took a devastating blow from Burfict. I cheered before the flags were even out because I knew what that meant. What followed was chaos on the field, as trainers came to help AB. There was a scuffle on the field and flags were thrown. For a split second I was worried the Steelers would be going right back to where they were with offsetting penalties, but then I saw David DeCastro jump with joy. After everyone was cleared away from the scuffle, the official announced the penalties. Two 15 yard penalties against the Bengals, putting the Steelers right in field goal position. How crazy that the season would come down to a kicker, after the Steelers had gone through 4 that year. But they had found their man, as Boswell kicked it through the uprights and the Bengals complete collapse was complete. The Steelers would win 18-16.

The next week the Steelers season would come to an end with a lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion, Denver Broncos. But although the season didn’t end with a Lombardi trophy, it’s still a season that should be looked at as successful. The amount of adversity this team overcame is astonishing. The went through 4 kickers and had their star Quarterback miss only 4 games, after it was feared it might be a career ending injury. They even had their all star running back have a season ending injury mid way through the season, and still managed to stay afloat. Then, they topped it off with a win against their rival and got to end the Bengals season in Cincinnati. The 2015 season might not have been one that ended in a championship, but it’s one I’ll always remember.

Let us know one of your favorite seasons in recent memory in the comment section below!


One Comment

  1. Rachelle Michael

    April 11, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    That season was a crazy roller coaster ride! Thanks for the trip down mem5lane!

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