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Final Round of Steelers March Madness: The Best of the Rest featuring No. 5 seed 2010 vs. No. 8 seed 1976

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Bracketing the best teams in the past 50 years of Pittsburgh Steelers history never to win a title. In the final round, who do you consider the “Best of the Rest” between the 1976 Steelers and the 2010 edition?

2011 AFC Championship: New York Jets v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

BTSC continues to search for the best and most-memorable Steeler team to not win a title. Last time around, you narrowly voted the last Steeler team to play in the Super Bowl in 2010 over the 1994 team that faltered three yards shy of victory in the AFCCG against the Chargers. Here are the results.

No. 6 Seed: 1994 (12-4) Not Quite 60-Minute Men - 46%

No. 5 Seed: 2010 (12-4) Slipping on the Stairway to Seven - 54%

As we head into the final matchup of the “Best of the Rest” bracket, the No. 5 seeded 2010 team that fell behind 21-3 to Green Bay before mounting a furious comeback that fell short battles against the team that started slow and ended dominant untill injury damned them in the AFC Championship. 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. 8 Seed: 1976 - The Steel Curtain Defense at their highest level

After winning their first two titles the previous two seasons, it seemed likely that the Steelers could three-peat as an even stronger unit. However, Chuck Noll’s team shockingly started off as a disappointing 1-4. To make matters worse, QB Terry Bradshaw was injured in a Week 5 loss in Cleveland. Bradshaw sustained the injury after the infamous Joe “Turkey” Jones slamdown. Fortunes would turn with Mike Kruczek behind center, as the rookie set a NFL record (later broken by Ben Roethlisberger in 2004) for wins to start a career. Bradshaw would return intermittently throughout the remainder of the season, but most of the Steelers success was due to a suffocating defense (five shutouts and a mere 28 points surrendered in those final nine games) and the rushing tandem of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. Harris (1,128 yards/14 TDs and Bleier (1,026 yards/5 TDs) were basically the entire offense, as the leading receiver (Lynn Swann) had a mere 516 yards and three scores. On a defense that included five All Pros, Mel Blount and Glen Edwards led with six interceptions a piece and Jack Lambert had two picks and six fumble recoveries. In the playoffs, the Steelers pounded Baltimore 40-14. Bradshaw threw three TD passes, two of them to Swann and Reggie Harrison had two rushing scores. Harrison was in due to injuries in the game to Harris and Bleier. Unfortunately, No. 46 and the Steelers weren’t as productive without the pair of 1K rushers the next week in the AFC Championship against Oakland. The Raiders went on to play Minnesota in SB XI, while Steeler Nation saw one of their best teams in franchise history wonder what might have been.

Pro Bowlers: Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Glen Edwards, Joe Greene, L. C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Andy Russell, Lynn Swann and Mike Wagner

First-Team All Pros: Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Glen Edwards

Second-Team All Pros: Joe Greene and Mike Wagner

Team MVP: Jack Lambert

No. 1 Draft Pick: Bennie Cunningham


No. 5 Seed: 2010 (12-4) Slipping on the Stairway to Seven

Divisional Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

Pittsburgh’s dynastic chances took a hit in 2009 after the Super Bowl victory in the 2008 campaign, but 2010 was supposed to be the chance to rectify that. It started off very unlikely in the offseason when Santonio Holmes, who was suspended for the first four weeks of the season because of substance abuse, freaked out on a plane and was subsequently traded to the New York Jets for a fifth rounder. Ben Roethlisberger received a six-game ban (later reduced to four) for an alleged sexual assault in Milledgeville, GA in which he was not charged. 2010 also saw the departures of RB Willie Parker, CB Deshea Townsend and S Tyrone Carter and the return of LB Larry Foote, CB Bryant McFadden and WR Antwaan Randle-El. The team’s biggest performances came courtesy of Ben, Mike Wallace (1,257 receiving yards/10 TDs), Rashard Mendenhall (1,273 rushing yards/13 TDs), James Harrison (10.5 sacks), LaMarr Woodley (10 sacks) and Troy Polamalu (7 INTs and NFL Defensive Player of the Year). The season began with Dennis Dixon behind center in a victory vs. Atlanta. It was won when Mendenhall galloped 50 yards in OT for a score. The next week saw Charlie Batch take over for Dixon in a win that saw Antonio Brown take the opening kick 89 yards for a score. After a 3-1 start, Ben returned in Week 5 and went 9-3 in the final three quarter of the campaign. The signature win came in Week 13 against the team that they battled neck-and-neck for the division all year, the Baltimore Ravens. No. 7, booted-up with a broken foot, suffered a gruesome nose break in the game. Trailing 10-6 late in the fourth, LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu teamed up with a sack and recovery of Flacco. Roethlisberger found Isaac Redman for a nine-yard score and the win. In the playoffs, they came from behind 14 points vs. Baltimore to win 31-24. In the AFCCG, the Steelers bested Santonio Holmes and the Jets to reach the Super Bowl. In their eighth SB, Ben threw an ugly pick-six and Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson were one step ahead of the secondary and shot the Pack out to an 18-point lead in Q2. But the Steelers mounted a furious comeback and were driving for the lead late in the fourth. However, Rashard Mendenhall fumbled and (after a GB FG) a last minute comeback was suffocated by the Green Bay defense and the Steelers fell in their most-recent SB.

Pro Bowlers: James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu and Maurkice Pouncey

First-Team All Pros: James Harrison and Troy Polamalu

Second-Team All Pros: Maurkice Pouncey

Team MVP: Troy Polamalu

No. 1 Draft Pick: Maurkice Pouncey

Rookie of the Year: Maurkice Pouncey


Both teams had fantastic and forceful defensive units. One team made it to the big game, while the other lost two 1K-yard rushers and squandered an epic defense before the AFCCG. Who will be named the “Best of the Rest”? Please vote and comment below.

Poll

In the final round of BTSC’s "Best of the Rest" March Madness poll, who do you consider the finest Steeler team not to win it all?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    No. 5 Seed: 2010 - Slipping on the Stairway to Seven
    (33 votes)
  • 82%
    No. 8 Seed: 1976 - The Steel Curtain Defense at their highest level
    (159 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now

Check back Friday for the results of this championship matchup.