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By any means necessary

Posted Feb 13, 2018

Offense got it done a variety of ways in 2017.

One of the goals of the Steelers’ offense in 2017 was to be able to apply whatever was necessary to a specific situation against a particular opponent.

That versatility turned out to be one of the Steelers’ defining characteristics.

They were able to run for 194 yards at Kansas City, 152 against Cincinnati and 143 against New England.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was able to throw for 506 against Baltimore.

And when merely maintaining possession was a significant part of the equation, the Steelers were able to keep the ball for 36:39 against the Chiefs, 35:15 against the Bengals and 35:07 against the Patriots.

The offense demonstrated the ability to be relentlessly methodical via a 16-play, 84-yard drive for a field goal in 10:23 against the Ravens.

And the Steelers’ quick-strike ability was never more apparent than on a 97-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster at Detroit.

It all added up to the Steelers finishing No. 20 in rushing offense (104.2 yards per game), No. 3 in passing offense (273.8), No. 3 in total offense (377.9), No. 8 in scoring offense (25.4 points per game) and No. 4 in time of possession (31:56).

The accompanying honors included running back Le’Veon Bell, wide receiver Antonio Brown and guard David DeCastro being named Associated Press first-team All-Pro.

Bell, Brown, DeCastro, Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey and fullback Roosevelt Nix ended up in the 2018 Pro Bowl.

And Smith-Schuster made the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie team.

Brown led all NFL players with six games of at least 10 receptions and 100 receiving yards. In the process he set an NFL record for fewest games to reach 700 career receptions (111) when he caught 10 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans.

Roethlisberger’s 30 completions, with four touchdown passes and zero interceptions against Tennessee was the fourth such regular-season game of his career. That tied Roethlisberger for the second-most in NFL history with Tom Brady, behind Drew Brees (seven). Roethlisberger also became the first quarterback in NFL history with three career regular-season games of 500 passing yards when he threw for 506 against the Ravens. And the 97-yard TD to Smith-Schuster against the Lions made Roethlisberger the first quarterback in NFL history with three touchdown passes of at least 94 yards and the fourth with four of at least 90 yards (along with Len Dawson, Joe Montana and Billy Wade).

Last but not least, Roethlisberger’s 4,251 passing yards extended his streak of throwing for at least 3,000 to 12 consecutive seasons. Roethlisberger is the sixth quarterback in NFL history to author such a streak, along with Brett Favre (18), Peyton Manning (13), Brees (13), Eli Manning (13) and Philip Rivers (12).

And Bell’s 1,946 yards from scrimmage pushed his career total to 7,966, a franchise record for a player in his first five seasons with the Steelers. Bell set an NFL record by surpassing 5,000 yards rushing and 2,500 yards receiving for his career in his 59th regular-season game (with 76 rushing and 106 receiving at Cincinnati) and tied Eric Dickerson’s NFL record for fewest games needed to reach 7,500 yards from scrimmage.

The Steelers’ 42 points in their loss to Jacksonville in the AFC playoffs tied the franchise record for points in a postseason game (42 on Dec. 29, 1996 against Indianapolis).

The Steelers’ offense was creative and improvisational to the bitter end against the Jaguars. A Roethlisberger scramble turned into a lateral to Bell and an 8-yard touchdown run that brought the Steelers to within 42-35 with 2:18 remaining in regulation.

It wasn’t quite enough, but that didn’t make such a play any less representative of the Steelers’ offensive capabilities in 2017.