“Pittsburgh’s Killer B’s. They’re on a swarm! “Pittsburgh’s Killer B’s. They’re on a swarm!
We’re not talking Wu Tang or even Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell of the oldschool Houston Astros. No, we don't mean the 1980's Miami Dolphins potent defense. The new “Killer B’s” consist of Pittsburgh’s three-headed offensive monster; QB Big Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and emerging superstar running back Le’Veon Bell.
After a rough start and rocky road mostly fueled by a personality rift between Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl winning QB who was stuck in his ways and Todd Haley, a brash former HC and talented OC who is quick to let a QB know he runs the show, Pittsburgh’s offense is running on all cylinders.
The triumvirates' success is a direct reflection of how far the offense has come in developing chemistry. Understanding each other’s personalities and checking egos for the good of the team. There was a nasty period back in December 2012 when the Steelers were coming off a tough 27-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys and Big Ben flipped on Haley’s minimal use of the no-huddle offense. The spark to that was probably a September incident in which the two had a sideline spat in a season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos.
Haley went at Roethlisberger on the sideline, but the veteran quarterback chose a path of peace.
"I walked away. I'll leave it at that. I walked away," Roethlisberger said.
In 2013, Brown got into with Haley on the sidelines of a 20-10 loss in Cincinnati, which dropped the Steelers to 0-2 at the time. Brown’s beef was a typical diva receiver riff. He felt that Haley wasn’t calling his number enough on pass plays.
Fortunately for Steelers fans, all of the characters in that initial mini-drama have smoothed out their differences. In typical Rooney fashion, The “Three Amigos” took the high road and it has led to prolific heights. Haley has the weapons to execute his game plan and Big Ben still has the championship chops to make it rain on defenses in an array of ways.
You’ve seen the offensive symphony of the Steelers reach this mass crescendo over time. Just building and adding pieces. Haley’s way of using Big Ben has taken the QB’s aerial game to a next level. Haley wanted balance and a team that’s equally effective on both sides of the ball. He also wanted to alleviate Big Ben of some of that burden. The Steelers are sixth in the NFL in scoring, first in yards, second in passing and 10th in rushing.
In a nutshell, the Steelers ARE Ben Roethlisberger and he’s been as vital to the success of his team as a Tom Brady or Payton Manning. In fact, I’d bet my 1969 Rod Carew baseball card that at this juncture in the season, you won’t find a Steelers fans on any planet known to man that will take another QB over their own.
He truly stays on point like a clock. He’s the leader of what has blossomed into the NFL’s top-ranked offense. In an era where passing yards are accumulated with the same ease, consistency and frequency as the dispensing of parking tickets on a NYC street, the ground and pound, defense-reliant Steelers have become a grass-grinding version of “The Greatest Show On Turf.”
In fact, the Steelers D has often been an albatross for the squad and is tied for 20th in the league in scoring defense.
Pittsburgh has a 9-5 record because The" Killer B’s" or "Triplets" or "3DaHardway"—whatever you want to call these cats—are having record-setting seasons and have the Steelers two victories away from an AFC North division title.
Roethlisberger is doing it major. He’s gunning for new franchise records for completions, yards and touchdown passes. He’s basically playing like an artist who has already sold 100 million albums and he’s seeing if he can get to 150 million sold. He has thrown for 4,400 yards, 29 touchdown passes and just eight picks this season with a career-best passer rating of 103.4. And of course, he’s as tough as they come in the history of his position.
If two Super Bowl rings don’t already scream “clutch,” then add in the nugget that Big Ben is top chef in the league in fourth-quarter cooking (with at least 100 attempts) with a rating of 112.0 with 10 touchdown passes and one interception.
Kurt Warner numbers for sure.
Bell's emergence—despite racking up carries—has actually made it easier for Brown to get balls He has 1,278 rushing yards and is second in the league in all-purpose yards with 2,043 yards, which is a Steelers single-season record. He’s also a dual-threat coming out of the backfield and catching the rock. His combination of size and athleticism is scary and he should have a patent on skywalking would-be tacklers.
Bell is running like he just hit a jewelry store and shining as if birthed in a gold mine. The former Michigan State star has dashed, dipped, flipped and rumbled his way to over 200 yards from scrimmage in three of his last four games. That streak was snapped last week at Atlanta in a game in which he still scored two touchdowns in helping the Steelers knock off the Falcons.
Marshall Faulk would be proud watching this ballerina bulldozer get wreck.
What more can we say about Brown, a guy Jerry Rice cosigned as a mirror image of himself? I guess we should call him the Kobe Bryant of the NFL. While Brown will never be Rice (and Kobe will never be MJ), he has cemented himself as one of the league's VIP pass-grabbers, leading the NFL in both catches (115) and yards (1,498) and has 11 touchdown catches.
He’s on his serious Torry Holt.
True story: Brown also leads the NFL in third-down catches with 33. So even when the D is keying on son, he’s almost impossible to stop. He has no weaknesses as a receiver. Like his QB and backfield bomber, Brown does it all at his position. He’s not out there for dolo either. The Steelers have been getting work from baby-ballers Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant.
In a nutshell, Pittsburgh will have to chuck itself to another Super Bowl. The stars of the team no longer linger on the defensive side of the ball. The new age Steelers offense is exciting, explosive and potent. Finding that consistency as a unit is all they strive for now. Whatever goes down in these final two games against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday and then the AFC-North leader Cincinnati (which could be for the division crown), The Killer B’s are going to be in the middle of it. They are swarming.