PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger won the Super Bowl, he paid tribute to his offensive line by saying, “Who’s laughing now, O-line?”
Back in 2008, Roethlisberger’s offensive line was injured and filled with backups during the season. Now, in 2010 Big Ben is going through a similar experience as he prepares for Super Bowl XLV.
Only one starter will be the same from that win over the Arizona Cardinals two years ago. Left guard Chris Kemoeatu is that lone man.
Both starting tackles have gone down this season and guys with a combined three starts will be at center and right guard on Sunday. Still, the Steelers’ linemen are laughing all the way to Cowboys Stadium.
“This group’s all come together and bought into our philosophy since the beginning of training camp. It’s nice to now see all that hard work pay off,” Max Starks said.
Starks was added to the injured reserve list at the midpoints of the season after sustaining a season-ending neck injury.
Willie Colon wasn’t able to play this whole season after injuring his Achilles tendon during summer practice.
Now, center Maurkice Pouncey will join Starks and Colon on the list of injured offensive linemen for the Super Bowl bound Steelers. Pouncey injured his left ankle in the AFC Championship Game against the New York Jets.
At right guard, Ramon Foster took over after being an undrafted free agent in 2009, with only three previous starts as an injury replacement.
Inactive for four of the season’s first eight games, Foster beat out Trai Essex on the depth chart after Essex — an off-and-on starter at guard and tackle over his six years with the Steelers — was benched.
Signed as a free agent during the offseason from Buffalo, Jonathan Scott started the final eight games at left tackle. Veteran Flozell Adams was signed on the eve of training camp, and the 13-year veteran has been one of the few constants after being plugged in at right tackle.
Adding Sean Kugler as the new offensive line coach this season, after Larry Zierlein was let go, only added to the constant state of change.
“It seems like we’ve had significant change on the offensive line every time we’ve been to the Super Bowl,” Starks said. “I wouldn’t say that this season was the wildest ride of them all, but I’d say it’s been the most exciting.”
Maybe that’s because the group overcame so much to help Pittsburgh get this far. The Steelers ranked 12th in the NFL in total offense — in the top half of both rushing and passing offense — and 11th in the league in yards per play (5.6).
They achieved those numbers despite the fact that only one starter made it through the season.
Luckily for the Steelers, they have Roethlisberger.