BTSC looks back at the teams that Steeler Nation counts as the best and most memorable in franchise lore that failed to hoist the Lombardi. As we enter into March Madness, BTSC presents a “Not Sweet Enough 16” over the next month to crown the “Best of the Rest”. The last time around the No. 2-seeded team from 2001 battled the 2015 Burfict-battered club. Here are the final tallies.
2015 (10-6) Barely Walking Wounded - 39%
2001 (13-3) Inaugural Heinz Field Heroes - 61%
This time around, the third-seeded team from 2017 battles it out with that beloved team from 2002. Be sure to vote for the best or most memorable team (your choice) below in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments section. Check back to BTSC Friday for the results.
No. 3 Seed: 2017 (13-3)
The 2017 version of the Steelers epitomized the nickname of “Team Turmoil”. It started as the first season that the club would have without Dan Rooney after his death in April of that year. The team added talent by selecting TJ Watt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner and adding Joe Haden and Vance McDonald. The regular season began with Le’Veon Bell showing up at the last minute and taking some time to scrape the rust off. In Week 3, everybody but Alejandro Villanueva stayed in the tunnel during the National Anthem and unrest in Steeler Nation and the NFL (as a whole) ensued. In Week 5, Ben threw five picks and Antonio Brown threw a Gatorade cooler in a 30-9 loss. But the Steelers reeled off eight-straight to extend their record to 11-2. In that stretch...the Steelers stunned unbeaten Kansas City at Arrowhead, Rosie Nix manhandled Cincy’s Vontaze Burfict in a win at home, Martavis Bryant blasted Smith-Schuster and was suspended for failing to show up to the facility after a win, JuJu reeled off a 97-yarder in a win against Detroit the game following that, Joe Haden went out with an injury and Ben feuded with Todd Haley in Indy, the team destroyed the Titans on TNF in their Color Rush jerseys, Ryan Shazier suffered his devestating injury in Cincy, JJSS was suspended for a blindsided hit on Burfict in that same game and the Steelers came back in an emotional 39-38 game against Baltimore. Then came the infamous Jesse James call that helped aid a loss against New England to snap the win streak and lose the top seed. A week later, James Harrison got himself released and fled to the Patriots. In the playoffs, the Steelers were caught looking ahead to a rematch against New England and faltered mightily against Jacksonville 45-42. It was a disappointing and underachieving end to a very promising season. Possibly the worst return from a talented group that included ten Pro Bowlers. It would be Le’Veon Bell’s last season on the field for Pittsburgh.
Pro Bowlers: Le’Veon Bell, Chris Boswell, Antonio Brown, David DeCastro, Cam Heyward, Maurice Pouncey, Roosevelt Nix, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Shazier and Alejandro Villanueva
First-Team All Pros: Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, David DeCastro and Cam Heyward
Team MVP: Antonio Brown
No. 1 Draft Pick: T.J. Watt
Rookie of the Year: JuJu Smith-Schuster
No. 14 Seed: 2002 (10-5-1)
Expectations were very high in 2002, following a season in which Kordell Stewart led the team all the way to the Conference Finals. However, Stewart and the team struggled mightily in an 0-2 start that featured losses in New England and at home against the Raiders. For most of Week 3 vs. Cleveland, the struggle continued untill Tommy Maddox entered the game with 4:14 remaining and down 13-6. Maddox led the Steelers down the field immediately. The drive ended with a TD to Plaxico Burress for the tie. In OT, Todd Petersen had a FG blocked on second down, but banged it through on third down for the win in what would be called “The Do-Over”. The Steelers lost the next week, but went 9-2-1 over the next three quarters of the season, mostly behind the resurgent “Tommy Gun”. Other leaders for “the Black-and-Gold” that season were the RB combo of Amos Zeroue (4 TDs) and Jerome Bettis (9 TDs), who combined for over 1,400 yards rushing. Hines Ward (112 catches/1,329 yards and 13 TDs) and Burress (78 catches/1,325 yards and 7 TDs) were the reception leaders. Rookie Antwaan Randle-El electrified as a receiver and a return man and Joey Porter dominated on defense with nine sacks and four interceptions. The season included many talking-points such as a 34-34 tie with Atlanta featuring 253 yards-receiving by Plaxico Burress and a frantic Hail Mary that saw Plex miss by inches as time expired, a Maddox spinal concussion, Jeff Reed’s six-FG debut (replacing Petersen) in Jacksonville, a loss to expansion Houston in which the Texans scored three TDs on defense, a scuffle with the Ravens in B-more and a late-season win in Tampa on MNF. The biggest moment of 2002 was most definitely the crazy comeback vs Cleveland in the AFC Wild Card as Maddox and Chris Fuamata-Ma’alfala led the way to glory in the snow and mud. The next week, the dream died in Nashville on a questionable roughing the kicker call. But nonetheless, it was one of those seasons that Steeler Nation holds dear.
Pro Bowlers: Alan Faneca, Jason Gidon, Joey Porter and Hines Ward
First-Team All Pros: Alan Faneca and Joey Porter
Second-Team All Pros: Hines Ward
Team MVP: Joey Porter and Hines Ward
No. 1 Draft Pick: Kendall Simmons
Rookie of the Year: Kendall Simmons
Which Steeler team not to win the Super Bowl do you consider the best or most memorable? Your choice.
This poll is closed
No. 3 Seed - 2017: Team Turmoil
No. 14 Seed - Tommy’s got a gun