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Top 12 Greatest Wins in Steelers' History (Non-Super Bowl) - #8: Steelers 26, Oilers 23 OT (1989)

Happy Monday all. Hope your weekends were enjoyable. We're just a few days away from the kickoff of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Exciting stuff. We'll try to get ready for that throughout the week, but for now, let's continue n with mary rose's countdown of the 12 greatest non Super Bowl wins in franchise story. Don't forget, mary rose's new book From Black To Gold: The Pittsburgh Steelers is now available for purchase for those who are interested.  - Michael Bean -


This series will highlight my Top 12 Greatest Wins in Pittsburgh Steelers' history.  I do not include Super Bowls, as they would eat up half the series!  Please keep in mind that these wins are not necessarily the most important wins.  If that were the case, then only the deepest playoff wins would be recounted.  Sometimes "importance" is a factor, but not always.  Sometimes the underdog factor comes into play and sometimes the comeback factor is the reason for a game being selected where it is. Sometimes it is just the way the game unfolded.  In any case, this is just one person's opinion, so there is no right and wrong, just fun.  Enjoy. 


The 1989 Pittsburgh Steelers began in sheer turmoil.  After going 5-11 in 1988, the Steelers opened the 1989 campaign at home and lost 51-0 to the hated Cleveland Browns.  The next week another division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals, pasted Pittsburgh 41-10.  Losing two games by a composite 92-10, the media pronounced the Steelers dead and officially declared that the modern game had passed by Head Coach Chuck Noll. 

Noll would not let his team be swayed by the media, nor would he take personal offense.  Slowly but surely, the Steelers of 1989 kept moving two steps forward, one step back, two forward, one back, until Christmas Eve welcomed the final day of the regular season.  The Steelers needed to win that last game in Florida against Tampa Bay and they needed help - lots of it.  The Raiders, Bengals and Colts, all very good football teams, needed to lose in order for Pittsburgh to slip into the playoffs.

The first good sign was the snowstorm in Florida.  The Buccaneers and their fans were shocked by the white flakes that poured from the heavens, accompanied by frigid temperatures.  While they bundled up accordingly, the Steelers came out of their locker room in short-sleeved jerseys.  The game was over before it began, Pittsburgh winning, 31-22.  Meanwhile, the Bengals, Raiders and Colts all lost their games.  I don't know what that four-team parlay would have payed, but it would have made someone rich.

The parlay allowed Pittsburgh to play on New Year's Eve in the Astrodome against the high-powered Oilers.  The Steelers were seven-point underdogs, having lost twice to Houston in the regular season.  The Steelers drew first blood after rookie linebacker Jerry Olsavsky broke through the middle to block a punt.  Tim Worley scored from the nine-yard line on a fourth-and-one.  The next six scores were all field goals, three by each team.  Houston's run-and-shoot offense was capturing territory, but unable to cross the goal line.

In the fourth quarter, it looked as though the Steelers climb in 1989 had come to a halt.  Houston finally busted free.  Warren Moon connected twice on scoring strikes to Ernest Givens and the Oilers had a seven-point lead, 23-16, with time running out.

Pittsburgh answered at the end.  Merril Hoge plunged in from the two-yard line with less than a minute to play and the game was tied at the end of regulation.  In overtime, the Oilers had the ball near midfield, close to victory, when Rod Woodson leveled Houston running back Lorenzo While, separating White from the pigskin.  The ever-opportunistic Woodson recovered the fumble and now it was Pittsburgh who was close to victory.  After a few safe and effective plays down to the Houston 33, stunningly, Gary Anderson drilled a 50-yard field goal that ended the game, 26-23.

The last professional sporting event of the decade belonged to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The victory got Houston Head Coach Jerry Glanville fired.  Glanville was Chuck Noll's personal arch-enemy, having displayed numerous antics that were both unprofessional and unsportsmanlike.  Noll, on the other hand, whom the game had passed by, was voted NFL Coach-of-the-Year by the Maxwell Club, for the first and only time in his career.

The Countdown

#12 - Steelers 20 - 49ers 17 (1984)
#11 - Steelers 20 - Colts 16 (1995)

#10 - Steelers 23 - Browns 7 (1964)

#9 - Steelers 24 - Broncos 17 (1984)