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Pittsburgh Steelers March Madness: The Best of the Rest featuring No. 7 seed 2011 vs. No. 10 seed 1995

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Bracketing the best teams in the past 50 years of Pittsburgh Steelers history never to win a title. Who do you consider the “Best of the Rest” between the 2011 Steelers and the 1995 version?

Steeler fans

BTSC continues to search for the best and most-memorable Steeler team to not win a title. Last time around, you voted the team that fell three yards short of a Super Bowl over a team that couldn’t beat New England in the AFCCG again. Here are the results...

No. 6 - 1994 Not Quite 60-Minute Men - 74%

No. 11 - 2016 Steel Holidays - 26%

This time around we pit a repeat 12-4 team that tried to rebound from a Super Bowl loss against the Super Bowl underdog that were defeated in the Desert. Be sure to vote for the team that remains the most memorable to you or the one you feel is simply the “best of the rest”. Your choice. Be sure to wax poetically in the comment section below.


No. 7 Seed: 2011 (12-4)

Coming off of a tough loss in the Super Bowl against Green Bay, the Steelers knew what they needed to do to get back there. In the draft, the Steelers picked DL Cam Heyward and OT Marcus Gilbert in the first two rounds. Heyward would pay dividends much later and Gilbert would start most of the season. The Steelers also added WR Jericho Cotchery in free agency. Leading the way in ‘11 were Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall (9TDs), Mike Wallace (1,193 yards/8 TDs), Antonio Brown (1,108 yards) and the duo of LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison (both with 11 sacks). The Steelers were armed with the best defensive unit in the entire NFL (fewest points allowed, fewest passing yards allowed and fewest total yards given up), but you would have never known it on opening day after the 35-7 drubbing in Baltimore that they absorbed. But the Steelers would rebound and win six of their next seven, followed by six of their next eight. The signature win that season came against the Patriots in Week 8 of that year. The Steeler D harassed Tom Brady all afternoon and prevailed 25-18. Looking like a possible championship team, the Steelers headed to Denver for the playoffs and found themselves down 20-6 at the half. But late in the game, Ben found Cotchery to tie it at 23. In the overtime, Tim Tebow threw a pass to Demaryius Thomas, whose burned Ike Taylor for 80 yards and the win. Their dreams dashed, the Steelers would spend the next two years out of the playoffs.

Pro Bowlers: Antonio Brown, Ryan Clark, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Maurkice Pouncey, Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace

First-Team All Pros: Maurkice Pouncey and Troy Polamalu

Team MVP: Antonio Brown

No. 1 Draft Pick: Cameron Heyward

Rookie of the Year: Marcus Gilbert


No. 10 Seed: 1995 (11-5)

After falling three-yards short in the AFC Championship at home against San Diego after the 2004 season, the Steelers were itching to get back and avenge that loss. The franchise lost some key personnel in the offseason as well, with RB Barry Foster’s departure, Gary Anderson to the Eagles and TE Eric Green joining the Dolphins for a huge deal. However, the addition of RB Erric Pegram from the Falcons and Andre Hastings from Tampa in free agency and a draft class that included TE Mark Breuer, Kordell Stewart and G Brendan Stai helped ease those losses and make the Steelers the NFL’s top scoring offense that year. On opening day a devestating blow was felt as CB Rod Woodson was lost for the remainder of the regular season with a knee injury. Starting QB Neil O’Donnell went down too and would miss four games. Mike Tomczak and Jim Miller would both fill in at QB and Willie Williams (a 6th rounder from ‘93) stepped-in and later Carnell Lake switched to corner to fill the huge void left by Woodson. Despite winning the first two games and going 3-2 in O’Donnell’s absence, the ‘95ers found themselves at a dismal 3-4 (that included a loss to expansion Jacksonville) and were eerily close to watching their division hopes crash and burn early on. The team met in the locker room and vowed to pull together in what would essentially be a nine-game season. They went on a tear, winning the next eight games, before losing in Green Bay in Week 17. That streak included two notable victories in which the Steelers had to come from behind in Chicago and Cincinnati. The Cincy win came after they were down 18. This season also saw the emergence of Stewart. Nicknamed “Slash” for his jack-of-all-trades contributions, No. 10 helped revitalize the team. Other leaders included 0’Donnell, Pegram (813 yards/5 TDs), Morris (9 TDs), Ernie Mills (8 TDs), Yancey Thigpen (1,307 yards/5 TDs), Williams (7 INTs), Greg Lloyd (6.5 sacks/6 forced fumbles), Kevin Greene (9 sacks), Ray Seals (8.5 sacks) and Norm Johnson (141 points as the NFL leader). After clinching, Bill Cowher rallied the team by telling them they had (as the two seed) at least one game at home. It would be more like two. After demolishing Buffalo 40-21, the Steelers welcomed Jim “Captain Comeback” Harbaugh and the underdog Indianapolis Colts to Three Rivers. A defensive stand, a conversion on 4th and three late from O’Donnell to Hastings, a Bam Morris TD after a 37-yard catch by Mills and a dropped Hail Mary by Aaron Bailey in the end zone highlighted a very exciting AFCCG. The Steelers would gain entry to their first SB in 16 years and Steeler Nation was at a fevered pitch. The Steelers fell behind in Arizona in SB XXX to Dallas 13-0, but a Thigpen TD catch cut the lead right before halftime. In the second half, momentum was clearly on Pittsburgh’s side. A surprise onsides recovered by Deon Figures, a Levon Kirkland sack and a Morris TD put the Steelers in position to take the lead. However, No. 14 threw to ugly interceptions to Larry Brown and the underdog Steelers couldn’t pull off the win. On the way to the locker room, Bill Cowher hugged and kissed his family and said to his daughter, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose”. This would be the last game for O’Donnell and Morris in a Pittsburgh Uniform. Neil would join the Jets after signing a big deal and Morris would get busted with a huge bag of weed and get cut in the offseason. Despite the loss in the big one, 1995 goes down as an almost magical season in Steeler lore.

Pro Bowlers: Dermontti Dawson, Kevin Greene, Carnell Lake, Greg Lloyd, and Yancey Thigpen

First-Team All Pros: Dermontti Dawson and Greg Lloyd

Second-Team All Pros: Carnell Lake

Team MVP: Neil O’Donnell

No. 1 Draft Pick: Mark Breuner

Rookie of the Year: Kordell Stewart


Poll

Which Steeler team not to win the Super Bowl do you consider the best or most memorable? Your choice.

This poll is closed.

  • 16%
    No. 7 Seed: 2011 (12-4) Tebowed in the end
    (29 votes)
  • 83%
    No. 10 Seed: 1995 (11-5) More than one Big Nasty D
    (148 votes)
177 votes total Vote Now

Check back Monday for the results and the final matchup of Round One.