This series was conceived by Michael Ulhorn and after hearing his idea to not just write a list, but focus on the best games of some of the greatest Steelers players in franchise history, I thought let's do it. Here's Michael's first entry in what I hope will be an enjoyable series. -Michael B. -
While thinking of ways to counter the monotony of lockout-induced arguments over player tweets or rehashing what went wrong against the Packers (it was clearly a rigged game from the start-- must have been payback from Seahawk and Cardinal "fans" from our previous tainted-triumphs), I asked Michael if I could submit weekly articles counting down the best game, in my opinion, of each of the top-25 Steelers to ever wear the Black and Gold.
Please know before we start: players like Elbie Nickel, Aaron Smith, Dwight White, Carnell Lake, Mike Wagner, and many other deserving studs didn't make the list. When you have a franchise as old and as accomplished as the Pittsburgh Steelers, sometimes our favorites are left out. As I stated before, this list is not just about ranking the top-25 all-time Steelers, but instead focuses on breaking down what I believe to be the best game in their career. This list will be hard to put together with such a great selection of players and games. However, I hope to spark a lively debate over my selections, where players are ranked, what I consider to be a "career game," and of course the players I have omitted. Just know that I am excited for the chance to present you with rankings that doesn't foolishly list a Raven above a more deserving Steeler.
That brings us to...
25) Casey Hampton - Nose Tackle (2001-Present)
Hampton was drafted in the first round with the 19th pick by the Steelers in 2001. Casey Hampton has been a big man since he was drafted, and even though he is listed at 6'1" & 325 pounds, I think he is probably closer to the average weight of a Longhorn Bull. I have always loved watching Hampton play because he is the epitome of why we love the Steelers: not flashy, nothing to brag about statistically, but still recognized as one of the best of his generation. Hampton will be regarded as one of the most instrumental players in this recent Steelers dynasty; and, after watching players like Ndamukong Suh and Marcell Dareus drafted in the top 3 picks the last two years, Casey has proven to be a steal at pick 19. Some people might want Vince Wilfork or Shaun Rogers clogging up the middle, but for my money, I'd rather have Big Snack.
Hampton has made 5 pro-bowls, won two Super Bowls and been to three, was co-MVP for the 2005 Steelers, and is a member of the Steelers' All-Time Team.
Statistics: 3 assisted tackles, 0 sacks, 0 individual tackles.
On December 12, 2010, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 23-7. This win came just a week after a brutal game against the Ravens, which set the Steelers up for the tie-breaker with the Ravens for the division crown, as long as they could win their two remaining division games. The Bengals had been terrible all season, and this was seen as a gimme-game for the Steelers. But as we all know, division games are never easy. For those of you paying attention, the Steelers held the Bengals to 7 points in a must-win game, thoroughly dominated Mike Brown's finest and Casey Hampton aided by recording 3 assisted tackles.
You may be asking yourself at this point why I chose this game in an otherwise Hall of Fame-worthy career. I should point out that the Steelers gave up a total of 34 yards rushing, and 190 total yards. The first number is obviously more of Casey's area than passing yards, but it is worth pointing out that the Steelers played one of their best games of the season that day. The Steelers needed to win, and they allowed 2.4 yards per rushing attempt. Casey Hampton didn't make a lot of tackles, and didn't have any sacks in this game; however, he took constant double teams, penetrated the offensive line, and allowed his teammates to demoralize this once-proud Bengals team to the point that they only attempted 14 rushes the whole day.
Casey didn't just eat up the rush, but also played an integral part of both pick-6's on the day. On the first interception (more memorable for being the cause of Troy's nagging Achilles injury), Hampton takes his opponent up the middle so fast that Palmer cannot see the best defensive player in the NFL sitting on the inside route. Casey is still driving that center back toward Ohio as a means to stay in shape during the lockout. On the second interception (Woodley), Hampton is one of a few men driving down the offensive line in what is clearly supposed to be a short pass to the right. Hampton and others on our defensive line get in Palmer's sight and he throws the ball up for Woodley to grab and run in for the score. Even though Palmer had an off day, upon re-watching the tape, it is clear Hampton had a lot to do with it.
This game was dominated by our whole defense, but Hampton is the main reason why teams fear running on the Steelers, and the Bengals cried uncle after only 14 tries.