The Steelers missed the playoffs, so what went wrong with them?
Even without Polamalu, arguably the Steelers' best player, the defense wasn't as terrible as some would make them seem. They were 12th in the NFL in points allowed per game, and 5th in yards allowed. They weren't as good as Steelers fans are accustomed to seeing from their boys in black and gold, but they weren't a BAD defense, by any stretch.
The offense, by Steelers standards, wasn't atrocious either. For the first time in team history, they had a 4000-yard passer, a 1000-yard rusher, and two 1000-yard receivers. By some standards, you could say that this Steelers offense was one of the best in franchise history.
The problem is, the offense has never been what wins games in Pittsburgh. They win with defense. Period. When their defense is among the best in the league, like it has been recently more often than not, they do well. When the defense isn't dominant, they don't win. The offense has never been the kind of offense to rack up points and win games.
It might be time to face it. The Steelers' only hope is not with Ben Roethlisberger and the offense. If he were truly the elite winner that Steelers fans want to pretend that he is, then the Steelers would have won more than 9 games, and they would be a playoff team right now. Despite the defense's struggles, it's hard to blame them when the offense can't even get into the end zone once against the Browns in a game that would have been the difference and gotten the Steelers into the playoffs if they had won.
The Steelers need to take a long, hard look in the mirror, and figure out where to go from here. Their injury problems this year probably won't be duplicated in the future, especially not with as key a component as Polamalu, but there were a lot more reasons for their failure this year.