It’s that time of the offseason, once again, where I bring to you my favorite Steelers game from the previous season. In this case, it’s the 2020 season; specifically, the regular season.
I was hoping my favorite game would be the Super Bowl or at least an epic playoff victory en route to a rather boring blow-out win in the Big Game, but that just wasn’t in the cards in 2020/2021.
But even seasons that don’t end in Super Bowl victories must have a favorite game, right? Yes, yes, that is right, Tony.
Thank you for agreeing.
Anyway, given the fact that the Steelers started out 11-0, it was a little hard to choose which game was tops in my book. I could have easily gone with the 27-24 victory over the Titans in Tennessee on October 25—I believe the team hit its peak in that game when it jumped out to a 27-7 lead over the first two-plus quarters. The 28-24 road triumph over the Ravens a week later was clearly a prime candidate—any win at M&T Bank Stadium always gets strong consideration.
But, alas, I went with Pittsburgh’s 38-7 drubbing of the Browns on October 18 at Heinz Field as my favorite game.
The victory was not only thorough, but there was never even a hint of a comeback, as Pittsburgh jumped out to a 24-0 lead and never looked back. Furthermore, the Steelers seemed to control both lines of scrimmage. Not only did their defense limit Cleveland to 75 yards on the ground and sack Baker Mayfield four times, but the offense also managed to rush the football with some effectiveness (this was back during the part of the season when that wasn’t a shocker). James Conner was the workhorse, tallying 101 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
As for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it wasn’t a special day, but it was quite efficient, as he completed 14 of 22 passes for 162 yards and a score, while also posting a 100.9 quarterback rating.
This is just an educated guess, but that’s the kind of day I think most Steelers fans would enjoy seeing from Roethlisberger more often than not at this stage of his career (and at any point in his career for the really old school fans out there).
Back to the defense. Not only did Keith Butler’s unit ultimately force Mayfield out of the game, but well before that happened, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick set the tone early with a first-quarter interception that he returned to the house for a score and a quick 10-0 lead.
There would be better days ahead for the Browns, who fell to 4-2 on the season.
As for the Steelers, who improved to 5-0 on the day and would continue to win for another six weeks, their mission for the rest of the season may have suddenly become an ill-fated one on this day when inside linebacker Devin Bush was lost with a torn ACL.
Yes, Robert Spillane came in and did a really good job filling in for Bush, but Bush was just one of several injuries the Steelers would endure on defense down the stretch—including a torn ACL suffered by Bud Dupree, along with a pretty serious knee injury for Spillane heading into the playoffs.
The offense started to flounder over the second half of the season, starting with the final two quarters of that aforementioned victory in Tennessee.
Ultimately, the Steelers would fall to those very same Browns in the playoffs, when Cleveland waltz into Heinz Field on Wildcard Weekend and jumped out to a 28-0 lead on the way to a 48-37 victory (I told you there were better days ahead for those Brownies).
Again, the Steelers’ 2020 campaign didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but it was rather enjoyable and peaked for me that day on October 18 when they showed those Brownies that they weren’t quite ready for primetime.