I have a hunch that some of you will enjoy this entry in Michael Uhlhorn's 25 Memorable Games from 25 Steelers Legends' series. The premise is to highlight individual games that Steeler Nation will always remember their career by. Not surprisingly, and just as Michael and I had hoped would happen, you all have offered some outstanding additions to the conversation. A bit trickier at No. 22 because it's hard to remember any one game form an offensive lineman, really. But it's not impossible, and I think Uhlhorn's made a mighty fine selection to remember Alan Faneca's career by.
22) Alan Faneca - Offensive Lineman (1998-2007)
Alan Faneca did things the right way. He was the best Left Guard of his era and could have played in front of anyone, from Jim Brown to Adrian Peterson. Faneca was a leader who had the type of gruff attitude that endeared him to Steelers fans, but was misunderstood in New York and Arizona. Alan Faneca is a rare case (just as Rod Woodson was before him) of the Steelers letting one of their own get away when he still had a lot left in the tank. I can't remember being more upset when a Steeler left (was too young with Woodson to really understand) than I was with Faneca, and he went on to play at a Pro Bowl level the rest of his career.
Faneca went about his business and largely stayed out of the spotlight, with one notable exception. During Ben Roethlisberger's rookie year, he was called out by Faneca after taking the starting role from Tommy Maddox and a brief divide was created in the locker room between the vets and the younger players. Weaker teams would have been destroyed by a fight between their new Franchise QB and arguably the best player on the team, but these Steelers overcame this hurdle and had one of the greatest seasons in franchise history.
He is considered by many as one of the ten-best Offensive Linemen to ever play the game, and is a player who might have a future as a coach in this league. If he decides to go that route, I hope Tomlin snatches him up. I can't wait to see Alan enshrined in Canton as another bust in a long-line of Steelers in the Hall.
Alan Faneca won one Super Bowl, was elected to 9 Pro Bowl and 9 All-Pro teams. He was Steelers Rookie of the Year (1998), the two-time Offensive Lineman of the Year, a member of the Steelers' All-Time Team. Faneca was also a member of the NFL's 2000 All-Decade team.
Career Game: 12/07/2006 -- Week 14
Statistics: Made Willie Parker play like Issac Redman, need I say more?
I chose a game that highlights the career of Alan Faneca, more than anything specifically related to him: he made others around him better, most notably Willie Parker. We all love Fast Willie for his big runs and speed in open field; however, we must all try to remember that without gaping holes to run through, Willie Parker was an average running back. Alan Faneca was the main reason Parker was able to break runs over 50-yards because he took the main defenders away from the line, and allowed other lineman to focus on inferior defenders. I would line Faneca up against Haloti Ngata any day of the week and bet my salary on Faneca. Few games are a better example of 66's dominance than the December 7th, 2006 game against the Cleveland Browns.
Willie Parker set a Steelers' record for most rushing yards in a game with 223 yards on 32 carries. Najeh Davenport added another 64 yards, John Kuhn 16 yards, and Parker and Ben each had rushing touchdowns. Also of note, no sacks were given up in this game. People often point to the skills of running backs and quarterbacks in these games, but as Steelers fans, we are smarter than that: this game was dominated on the offensive line. When Willie Parker needed to get the toughest yards in football, the last 3-yards to score a touchdown, he ran right behind Alan Faneca and scored easily. Faneca manhandled the Browns defensive line all day and helped open a hole that Parker scampered 39 yards through. Hell, John Kuhn broke free for 16 yards on an impressive carry. Faneca was the greatest lineman of his generation and showed all of that in this game.