Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey mugs for a selfie during pregame warmups at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver before their season ended with a playoff loss to the Broncos.
A look back at each Steelers game of the season.
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As seasons go, this one was topsy-turvy with three different starting quarterbacks and injuries to some of their biggest names on offense. They lost Ben Roethlisberger for four starts, Le’Veon Bell for most of the season, center Maurkice Pouncey for all of the season and starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum. Yet, somehow they persevered and went 10-6 while beating some of the NFL’s best teams before bowing out of the playoffs with a loss to Denver, the AFC's top seed. They also lost twice to a five-win Baltimore team. Herewith, a thumbnail review of it all:
New England 28, Steelers 21
Game 1: Sept. 10, 2015 at Foxborough, Mass.
A U.S. district judge lifted Tom Brady’s four-game suspension and took the air out of the Steelers’ hopes. They had never beaten Brady in Foxborough and his four TD passes assured they would not in this NFL Kickoff game.
Steelers 43, San Francisco 18
Game 2: Sept. 20, 2015 at Heinz Field
Jim Tomsula’s homecoming as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers was spoiled by three Ben Roethlisberger TD passes and three DeAngelo Williams TD runs. Tomsula was fired the day after his first season as coach ended.
Steelers 12, St. Louis 6
Game 3: Sept. 27, 2015 at St. Louis
Ben Roethlisberger left with a sprained knee, Mike Vick made his Steelers debut at quarterback and the defense with little expectations rose up to hold the Rams out of the end zone. Josh Scobee’s two field goals provided the winning margin.
Baltimore 23, Steelers 20 (OT)
Game 4: Oct. 1, 2015 at Heinz Field
One of the rare times in which the Steelers could not hold a big lead (20-7) in the third quarter. Justin Forsett gouged the Steelers for 150 yards rushing. Josh Scobee's two missed field goals provided the losing margin and he was cut the next day.
Steelers 24, San Diego 20
Game 5: Oct. 12, 2015 at San Diego
Mike Tomlin rolled the dice and had his team go for it all on the final play instead of a tying field goal. Le’Veon Bell took a direct snap and ran 1 yard for the winning TD. Mike Vick threw a 72-yard TD pass to Markus Wheaton and led them on the 80-yard winning drive.
Steelers 25, Arizona 13
Game 6: Oct. 18, 2015 at Heinz Field
QB Landry Jones made his first NFL start a memorable one. He threw two TDs — the final one an 88-yard pass to Martavis Bryant with 1:56 left — and no INTs. Mike Mitchell recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass in the end zone.
Kansas City 23, Steelers 13
Game 7: Oct. 25, 2015 at Kansas City, Mo.
The Landry Jones magic ran out and the defense forced no turnovers and allowed an 84-yard drive in the fourth quarter that put the game away for the Chiefs. Jones threw two interceptions and the Steelers converted just 2 of 10 third downs.
Cincinnati 16, Steelers 10
Game 8: Nov. 1, 2015 at Heinz Field
Ben Roethlisberger returned but was not sharp. He threw three interceptions, the final two in the fourth quarter that led to a Cincinnati TD and field goal to erase the Steelers’ 10-6 lead. Le'Veon Bell left the game with a knee injury that would end his season.
Steelers 38, Oakland 35
Game 9: Nov. 8, 2015 at Heinz Field
The Steelers’ 35-21 lead vanished and they lost Ben Roethlisberger again (foot sprain). But DeAngelo Williams rushed for 170 yards and Antonio Brown turned a short pass from Landry Jones into a 57-yarder that set up Chris Boswell’s winning field goal with 2 seconds left.
Steelers 30, Cleveland 9
Game 10: Nov.15, 2015 at Heinz Field
Ben Roethlisberger replaced an injured Landry Jones in the first quarter and threw for 379 yards and three TDs as he outdueled Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel. The Steelers defense forced three turnovers, had six sacks and held the Browns to 15 yards rushing.
Seattle 39, Steelers 30
Game 11: Nov. 29, 2015 at Seattle
A fake field goal blew up on the Steelers when Landry Jones' pass was intercepted. Seattle turned that into a TD as it did two Ben Roethlisberger INTs that offset his 456 yards passing and the Steelers lost another fourth-quarter lead.
Steelers 45, Indianapolis 10
Game 12: Dec. 6, 2015 at Heinz Field
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 364 yards and four TDs, Antonio Brown had 118 yards receiving and a TD, Martavis Bryant had 114 yards and a TD, and DeAngelo Williams rushed for 134. The defense forced three turnovers and held Indy to just 240 yards.
Steelers 33, Cincinnati 20
Game 13: Dec. 13, 2015 at Cincinnati
A “chippy” game that produced nearly $140,000 in fines also yielded yet another win for the Steelers in Paul Brown Stadium. Stephon Tuitt’s INT near the goal line helped keep the Bengals off the board early. William Gay’s 23-yard pick-six TD with 3:49 left sealed it.
Steelers 34, Denver 27
Game 14: Dec. 20, 2015 at Heinz Field
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 380 yards and three second-half TDs as the Steelers overcame a 27-10 deficit. Roethlisberger’s 23-yard scoring pass to Antonio Brown with 3:24 left broke a tie. Their defense shut out the Broncos in the second half.
Baltimore 20, Steelers 17
Game 15: Dec. 27, 2015 at Baltimore
Favored by 11.5 points, the Steelers never had a lead and their playoff chances were jeopardized as the injury-ravaged Ravens pulled the upset. Roethlisberger threw two INTs and the Steelers defense had no turnovers and one sack.
Steelers 28, Cleveland 12
Game 16: Jan. 3, 2016 at Cleveland
The defense forced four turnovers and had seven sacks, holding the Browns out of the end zone. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 349 yards and three TDs. The win combined with the New York Jets loss in Buffalo gave the Steelers the sixth and final playoff seed in the AFC.
Steelers 18, Cincinnati 16
Wild Card: Jan. 9, 2016 at Cincinnati
The Bengals came back from a 15-0 fourth-quarter deficit and seemed to have the game won after Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder injury. But a late fumble, two penalties and Roethlisberger's return set up Chris Boswell's winning 35-yard field goal.
Denver 23, Steelers 16
Divisional: Jan. 17, 2016 at Denver
Playing without their leading receiver Antonio Brown and leading rusher DeAngelo Williams, the Steelers lost a late 13-12 lead after Fitzgerald Toussaint fumbled and Peyton Manning led the Broncos on a touchdown drive. It was the only turnover of the game.
By the numbers
10-6: Record in 2015 — their 23rd season with at least 10 wins.
28: Playoff appearances since the NFL merger — most of any franchise.
26.44: Scoring average — the third highest in team history behind 2014 (27.25) and 1975 (26.64).
Ed Bouchette: email@example.com and Twitter @EdBouchette. Post-Gazette sports pages designed and edited by: Brian Batko, Adam Bittner, David Fink, Ben Howard, Alex Iniguez, Joe Knupsky, Tyler Pecyna, Paul Pierre-Louis, Brent Spanton, Randy Stoernell And Steve Ziants.
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