I can assure you this article is not some sort of time-filler written in the name of the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m extremely talented and can think of topics to write about no matter what’s going on with the Steelers or, for that matter, the world with this pandemic.
Besides, it’s April, the NFL is still months away from possibly cancelling games, and I have no reason for filler at the moment.
Nope, the idea to write about my favorite Steelers victory from each place I’ve lived during my lifetime came from a little thought I had recently about how much everything sucked between 1985-1988. That era really sucked for me, personally, but it also sucked for Pittsburgh’s professional football team. As I thought about that three-year stretch, I found it difficult to come up with any Steelers victories that I truly cherished.
That got me to thinking about all of the places I’ve lived over the years, mainly due to being poor, and which Steelers victory I considered my favorite from each residence.
Is it a fitting theme given the fact that we all have to #stayhome for the foreseeable future? Yes, but quite organic, no?
Won’t you join me for a stroll down memory lane?
Steelers 31, Rams 19, Super Bowl XIV, January 20, 1980, Carroll Street, Bloomfield
I was on about my fifth residence by this point in my young life. Carroll Street in Bloomfield was where my passion for the Steelers somehow became a thing that has existed inside of me ever since. I won’t go into too much detail about this game, but Terry Bradshaw threw a couple of important fourth-quarter passes to John Stallworth—one for a touchdown, one for a first down that all but sealed the deal—that were sandwiched in-between a huge interception by Jack Lambert (I believe I would get evicted from my current residence if I failed to mention Jack Splat’s heroics).
Honorable Mention: Steelers 26, Bengals 20, September 19, 1982
Gary Anderson tied the score with a fourth-quarter field goal to send this Week 2 battle into overtime. In OT, Dwayne Woodruff came up with a huge interception that set-up a Bradshaw to Stallworth two-yard score that gave Pittsburgh its first victory over the Bengals since 1979.
It was the last Steelers game I ever watched on Carroll Street. In fact, it was the last Steelers game anyone watched for quite a while due to the 1982 strike.
Steelers 24, Oilers 10, November 21, 1982, Herschel Street, Elliot/West End
I had some real emotional problems as a young child, so in-between that game against the Bengals and the end of the 1982 strike, my mom—who was a single mother with her hands completely full—sent me to live with my maternal grandparents for a spell. I don’t remember much about this particular win, only that I was very happy that the NFL season had resumed.
Steelers 34, Jets 7, December 10, 1983, Dobson Street, Polish Hill
The Steelers entered the day on a three-game losing-streak and were 9-5 and on the verge of being out of the playoffs. Fear not, because Bradshaw, who missed the first 14 weeks while recovering from offseason elbow surgery, was back in the saddle at quarterback. Unfortunately, he was bucked off the horse by the end of the first half due to aggravating his elbow. But fortunately for the Steelers, Bradshaw managed to throw two touchdown passes to give Pittsburgh an early 14-0 lead. My mom, who never seemed to express much interest in any Steelers outcome up to that point, jumped for joy when Bradshaw connected with receiver Gregg Garrity for his first touchdown of the day.
The victory clinched the AFC Central Division title for the Steelers. Sadly, however, it was the last time Bradshaw ever played in the NFL.
Steelers 20, 49ers 17, October 14, 1984, Faronia Street, Sheraden
I never liked my life during the year that I lived in Sheraden, but funny thing is, some of my fondest football memories—both personally and involving the Steelers—happened during that time.
One such fond memory about the Steelers occurred on a day in-which a very mediocre Pittsburgh team quarterbacked by Mark Malone marched into Candlestick Park and upset an undefeated 49ers team quarterbacked by the legendary Joe Montana.
Malone found Stallworth in the end zone for a fourth-quarter game-tying touchdown that was aided greatly by a very controversial defensive pass interference call against San Francisco.
With time running down in regulation, linebacker Bryan Hinkle intercepted a Montana pass, setting the scene for a game-winning boot by Anderson.
In many respects it was the last great regular season victory for head coach Chuck Noll, who out-foxed the equally brilliant Bill Walsh on this day. It was the only defeat the 49ers suffered on the way to their second Super Bowl victory months later.
Steelers 24, Broncos 17, divisional round playoff game, December 30, 1984, Herschel Street, Elliot/West End
Speaking of months later, I was back living with my grandparents by this time, and I was joined by my mom and siblings (we were in-between residences for a spell).
Again, 1984 was a bad year for me, but there’s always been a special place in my heart for it thanks to the Steelers upset victory over the Broncos in a playoff game at old Mile High Stadium.
When the 1984 Pittsburgh Steelers were bad, they were very bad, but when they were good, they were capable of playing with anyone. This might have been an even greater example than the victory over the 49ers. No, Denver wasn’t nearly as good as the 49ers, but this was a playoff game at Mile High.
Things were tight all the way, but the Steelers tied the game on a third-quarter touchdown pass from Malone to the sensational Louis Lipps.
Late in the game, safety Eric Williams picked off John Elway (yes, he was the Broncos quarterback) and returned it 29 yard to set up Frank Pollard’s game-winning plunge.
The Steelers, a team that finished 9-7 and barely scraped into the playoffs, were one win away from the Super Bowl.
Steelers 45, Colts 3, September 8, 1985, Woodlow Street, Crafton Heights
If I had to pick a victory that felt good during that aforementioned three-year stretch in-which I lived on Woodlow (1985-1988), it would be Pittsburgh’s 45-3 thumping of the Colts in Week 1. Malone threw five touchdowns that day, and it seemed like the Steelers were set to pick up where they left off the year before when they advanced all the way to the AFC title game.
Unfortunately, it was sort of a last hurrah for the Steelers, as they went on to finish 7-9—their first losing record since 1971—and would remain mediocre or worse for many more seasons.
Steelers 20, Colts 16, AFC Championship Game, January 14, 1996, Herschel Street, Elliot/West End
I was an adult by this point, a young adult, and living with my grandmother and two uncles on Herschel Street—this had actually been my permanent residence for close to a decade by this point. The Steelers suffered a heart-wrenching defeat to the underdog Chargers in this same game just a year prior, and they were back again to face an equally underdog Colts team.
You know the story—most fans do. Jim Harbaugh’s last-second Hail Mary pass fell just incomplete in the end zone, and Pittsburgh was off to its first Super Bowl in 16 years.
One image I’ll take from that game was watching my two uncles embrace in the living room when Neil O’Donnell hit Ernie Mills on a 37-yard pass play that set up the winning touchdown.
Another image I’ll always have is of me joyfully sliding into the kitchen on my stomach right after this game and looking up at my late uncle Tony, who stared down at me and said, “Grow up.”
Honorable Mention: Steelers 26, Oilers 23, wildcard game, December 31, 1989, Herschel Street, Elliot/West End
The Steelers were 5-11 in 1988 and answered the bell in 1989 by losing their first two games by a combined score of 92-10.
Fortunately, the Steelers managed to get their act together to finish 9-7 and barely sneak into the playoffs as the AFC’s fifth seed.
Houston was a huge favorite, but the Steelers prevailed thanks to a 50-yard field goal by Anderson in overtime.
The 1989 Steelers were a Cinderella story that most fans have always cherished, and that chapter in Houston, Texas, on New Year’s Eve is one I like to relive over and over again.
Steelers 27, Ravens 10, divisional round playoff game, January 20, 2002, Belvidere Street, Crafton
I had been a full-fledged adult, living on my own for quite some time by this point in Steelers history. Unfortunately for them, they had missed the playoffs the previous three years.
Thankfully, both the Steelers and beleaguered quarterback Kordell Stewart managed to rebound in a big way in 2001, winning 13 games and capturing the AFC Central title for the first time since 1997. The Steelers faced the defending champion Ravens in the divisional round. Despite concerns from many that the Ravens had regained their swagger in the wildcard round, Pittsburgh dominated from start to finish.
Steelers 21, Seahawks 10, Super Bowl XL, February 5, 2006, Scotia Street, Ingram
I won’t go into too much detail with this one, other than the Steelers captured their first Lombardi trophy in 26 years.
Steelers 27, Cardinals 23, Super Bowl XLIII, February 1, 2009, Noble Ave., Crafton
This Steelers victory, which came shortly after I moved to my current place of residence (finally found a home I love, thank God), gave them a record sixth Super Bowl title. And, much like XL, the details of the game are universal enough that I won’t bore you with them.