PITTSBURGH (AP) – Best Game: Their margin for error nonexistent, the Steelers drilled eventual AFC North-champion Cincinnati 30-20 on Dec. 15, racing to a quick 21-0 lead and cruising behind two touchdowns from wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Worst Game: The Steelers have been playing football for 81 years and had never sustained the kind of whipping they endured in a 55-31 loss to New England on Nov. 3 that left them at 2-6. The Patriots set records for points and yards (610) by a Pittsburgh opponent, including 31 points over the final 18 minutes.
Best Play: Troy Polamalu channeling 2009 in Green Bay on Dec. 22, stripping Packers quarterback Matt Flynn of the ball. Brett Keisel recovered at the Green Bay 19 to set up the winning touchdown in a 38-31 victory.
Worst Play: A two-way tie. Mike Tomlin’s two-step onto the field in a loss to Baltimore on Thanksgiving night earned him a $100,000 fine and may cost the team a draft pick. A week later, Brown stepped out of bounds at the Miami 12 on the final play, negating what would have been a game-tying score.
Biggest Surprise: Kelvin Beachum’s emergence as the left tackle of the future. The former seventh-round pick provided solid if not spectacular play after taking over for ineffective Mike Adams.
Biggest Disappointment: Linebacker LaMarr Woodley struggled to stay healthy, spending much of the season’s second half dealing with a pair of calf injuries. Jason Worilds’ filled in brilliantly, leaving Woodley’s job status in jeopardy.
What’s Next: Figuring out who to keep and who to let walk on a defense that is still in the midst of a makeover. Getting a No. 2 wide receiver to take some of the pressure off Brown.