clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The BTSC Delorean: Looking back at some memorable Steelers NFC contests

With the bye bringing no opponents this week, BTSC takes a look back at some of the more memorable contests vs. NFC opponents.

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jonathan Hayes (L) r Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on a bye during Week 9 of the NFL season in between games against the NFC’s Eagles in Philadelphia and the Saints at Acrisure Stadium. With two NFC opponents sandwiching the week off, BTSC takes a peak at memorable contests between teams from the other conference that the black and gold won’t see in any capacity in 2022.

November 4, 1979 - Pittsburgh Steelers 38, Washington Redskins 7

Legend has it that the 1970s Steelers would always describe the second half of the season as “the money half” due to the $32,000 in extra pay that goes to each player received for winning two playoff games and the Super Bowl. At 6-2, the black and gold were entering the back end of 1979 as, once again, the team to beat and nobody was going to stand in their way of the payout. That list included the Washington Redskins, a team that had given up the fewest points, 125, of any team in the league.

The Steelers started the scoring with 5:20 left in Quarter No. 1 when Don Bragg shanked a punt for the Redskins and Terry Bradshaw led the ‘lers on a six-play drive of 55 yards that included two first down grabs by Randy Grossman. TB12’s 11-yard toss to Stallworth had the defending champs up 7-0. The Redskins would get a score of their own in the second quarter though when A Joe Theisman to Ricky Thompson 42-yard toss to the 4 opened the door for John Riggins to blast in from there to knot the game up at 7-7. But that was really it for this contest as the black and gold blew the game wide open in the second quarter. Bradshaw was slinging the pill every where and Jack Pardee’s club couldn’t keep the Steelers vaunted offense from scoring. Matt Bahr’s 21-yard field go and touchdowns to tight ends Bennie Cunningham (16 yards) and Randy Grossman (4 yards) after a Mel Blount fumble recovery put the Steelers ahead going into the dressing room. The Steelers could have had more points in the first half, but Jack Lambert’s fumble recovery was annulled because of an early whistle, the inconsistent rookie Bahr missed a kick and TB12 threw a pick when Joe Lavender stepped in front of Jim Smith for the theft. A Mark Mosley miss right before the gun sounded kept the score at 24-7.

The Steelers defense was menacing and the offense stayed the course to put the game on ice in the second half. The Steelers extended their lead on a blooper reel catch and run of a slant pass from Bradshaw to Stallworth. No. 82 fielded his own deflection and dashed from midfield all the way into the end zone to complete a 65-yard play. Mel Blount’s interception of Theisman on the next series, ended it up being for naught as Mike Kruczek fumbled the ball away deep in Washington territory. Mike Kruczek was in as Terry Bradshaw was pulled in a prophylactic effort to stay fresh for the stretch run. The Blonde Bomber enjoyed a masterful day with 311 yards and four touchdown passes in a little over a half of football. The 4 TD haul was a career-high for Terry and tied a then Steelers record with the likes of Bobby Layne, Jim Finks, Ed Brown and Dick Shiner.Another half of play and the Steelers quarterback would have challenged Layne’s franchise record of 409, set against the Chicago Cardinals in 1958.

Kruczek was having a fine passing game of his own (5 for 7 with 79 yards) and was engineering scoring drive, but Bahr’s second miss gave the ball back to the dudes from DC. Clarence Harmon promptly fumbled though with John Banaszak recovering. The Steelers got the ball back and reserves Rick Moser and Anthony Anderson carried the load with future Hollywood Consultant and actor Moser scoring from the 2 to close out the scoring. Bahr, who was having a subpar day kicking, made a highlight play on the ensuing kickoff. The Penn State rookie who is 5’ 10” and 165 pounds tackled returner Ike Forte, saving a possible touchdown. Bahr was beaming as he received an acknowledgment from Jack Lambert. The Redskins brought in Kim McQuilken to replace Theisman, but his highlights included being the victim of a sack and interception by safety Donnie Shell.

Besides the epic afternoon for Bradshaw, Stallworth (126 yards on 6 catches) and Lynn Swann (5 catches for 106) led the way receiving and Harris (62 yards on 15 attempts) and Anderson (56 yards on 6 rushes) kept the chains moving. It was a banner day for the boys of the Burgh, while Washington limped back to our nation’s capitol. The Steelers extended their record to 22-5 against NFC teams since the start of 1972 and extended their division lead over Houston. In the process, the Men of Steel outscored the opposition by 109‐20 in their block of four contests against the likes of opponents all with a winning record being Denver, Dallas and Washington, as well as the Chiefs the following week. Chuck Noll’s Steelers were, once again, on track to be $32K richer in January.

October 14, 1984 - Pittsburgh Steelers 20, San Francisco 49ers 17

The Steelers least-successful decade of the past 52 years was definitely the 1980s. There was a definite fallout from the four championships in six seasons that came to a stop after the super 70s run. Guys like Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Jack Ham and Joe Greene were showing their age or hanging up their cleats. From 1982-1984, Pittsburgh made the postseason three straight years. This was due to still having a handful of 70s legends mixing with new blood, and playing in a sub-par division. But the run of picking late in the first round through all of the trophy years helped aid the decline. Before the 1984 season, the Steelers saw Terry Bradshaw retire and Franco Harris hold out and end up in Seattle. But there were still some memorable days. This didn’t seem to look like it was going to be one of them though. The 6-0 49ers were the hottest team in football and they were already being talked about as a historic team that could go 19-0. That week, 15 Niners recorded a song on vinyl called We’re the 49ers. Coach Bill Walsh was beginning to worry that his team was getting distracted. The Steelers, on the other hand, were just destroyed 31-7 against Dan Marino’s Miami Dolphins.

The Steelers adventure that day at famed Candlestick Park began with the eight-point underdogs coming out to a shocking ten-point lead courtesy of Frank Pollard’s grinding runs. That led to a Rich Erenberg score from two yards out on the very first drive and a Gary Anderson field goal from 48 in the second quarter, but before halftime Joe Montana finally solved the Steeler defense and ran the ball himself from the seven, right before the half. But still, the .500 visitors were up by three on Bill Walsh’s undefeated club.

In the second half, Montana and the 49ers came alive. A field goal by Ray Wersching and another seven-yard jaunt, this time by Wendell Tyler, made the score 17-10 Niners in the fourth. It looked like the typical story with the favorite getting down early and putting the game away late, but the young Steelers wouldn’t go down easy. John Stallworth, who was injured most of 1983, had a career resurgence in 1984 and it continued in San Francisco. After a controversial pass interference call on a pass to Stall gave the Steelers new life, No. 82 hauled in a six-yard pass from QB Mark Malone to tie the score late in the fourth. The play completed a 15-play, 83-yard drive against a typically staunch defense.

There was a rub though. The man they called “Joe Cool” was famous for late-game wins. He had 3:21 remaining on the clock and we’ve all seen that movie before. Defeat seemed inevitable for Pittsburgh. But with SF driving, LB Brian Hinkle made a leaping interception and returned the ball 43 yards to halt the drive and set up shop deep in Niner territory. The drive stalled and the Steelers settled for a 21-yard field goal by their Pro Bowler Anderson to take the lead by the score of 20-17.

But remember that comment about seeing this movie before? With 1:42 left on the Candlestick clock, No. 16 drove his scarlet-clad warriors down the field. Dwight Clark and mostly TE Earl Cooper dominated the drive that saw Montana go six of seven with one drop. The reliable Wersching came on for the game winning kick from 37 out. The kick failed and the Steelers were victorious

At 3-3, the win helped propel the Steelers over the remaining 11 games to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost to Marino and Miami. Had they won, they would have had a rematch with San Fran, once again in NoCal. That may have not ended as well as this one did, as the 49ers beat Miami 38-16 for the title. But those Steelers, and their fans, took great pride in spoiling a perfect season. They’ll always be remembered for that distinction.

September 24, 1989 - Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Minnesota Vikings 14

The 1989 Steelers are legendary, mainly because of the disastrous way that they started their season by losing to the Cleveland Browns 51-0 at home in Week 1 and to the Cincinnati Bengals by the score of 41-10 in Week 2. Week 3 of Pittsburgh’s season presented the Minnesota Vikings, a Super Bowl favorite and NFC Championship Game participant in 1988 to Three Rivers Stadium. Accompanying the Vikings was stand out linebacker Mike Merriweather, who held out the entire 1988 season forcing the Steelers to trade him on draft day for the 24th overall pick in the draft. Awaiting the Vikings however, was four rookies getting the start and former tight end Mike Mularkey who arrived in Pittsburgh as a Plan B free agent. The Steelers seemed to be in complete disarray as starting linebacker Brian Hinkle was out, injuries forced multiple shifts on an offensive line that allowed Bubby Brister to be sacked 12 times in the first two games, the running game was stagnant, and the pass rush only recorded a mere one Greg Lloyd sack to that point. On paper, this game had the potential to be even worse than the first two debacles as the Steelers were heavy home dogs. But it’s a good thing that games are played on a legal pad.

The heavy underdogs, the Steelers, actually drew first blood on a 15-yard pass from Bubby Brister to the aforementioned Mularkey. Gary Anderson kicked the extra point to surpass Roy Gerela as the Steelers’ all-time leading scorer with 740 points. Minnesota would answer, though, on their next drive with a 1-yard run by QB Wade Wilson to tie it at 7-7. In the second, the Steelers answered with a touchdown run by rookie Tim Worley, as big No. 38 rumbled in from the 8 to retake the advantage. But the Minny Vikes were determined to keep pace when Chris Doleman sacked-stripped Brister and Henry Thomas (not the kid from E.T.) returned the fumble 27 yards for a touchdown. For the fourth time in three games, the Steelers offense gave up a touchdown. The Steelers could have crawled up in their black-and-gold shells right there, but rebounded and countered right before halftime when Merrill Hoge scored a go-ahead touchdown from the Vikings 2.

Entering the second half protecting a seven-point lead, Pittsburgh’s defense rose up under new defensive coordinator Rod Rust and shut out the visiting Vikes in the final 30 minutes of competition. Tim Johnson collected a second sack to go with his first half QB drop, while Jeroll Williams, subbing for Hinkle, achieve two sacks and Hardy Nickerson got one. The Steelers also picked-off Wade Wilson twice as Thomas Everett and David Little had thefts and chased the Pro Bowler from the contest to be replaced by veteran Tommy Kramer.

In a roller coaster season that showcased some of Chuck Noll’s finest coaching and the Steelers a dinked field goal away from the AFC Championship Game, this was the game that granted the Steelers a chance to ride again.

November 5, 1995 - Pittsburgh Steelers 37, Chicago Bears 34 (OT)

There was such hope for the 1995 Steelers, who were mired in a season that, so far, had produced a disappointing 5-4 record as they headed to Chicago to face the 5-2 Bears. Pittsburgh was 0-11 all time in the Windy City and Bill Cowher proclaimed the week before the game that the Steelers’ win over Jacksonville had to be the start of a “nine game season”. Opposing Cowher was another Pittsburgh-bred coach, Dave Wannstedt. His Bears were led by red-hot QB Erik Kramer, who had thrown 18 touchdown passes to only four picks. Kramer was playing behind a solid line that saw him get sacked only four times so far that season. It was unusual to see such a high-octane offense in Chicago. Kramer, along with rookie RB and 1994 Heisman winner Rahsaan Salaam, plus receivers Curtis Conway and former Steeler Jeff Graham, formed the nucleus of the offense with the second best points-per-game average in the NFL at 27.3.

Cowher had made big changes on both sides of the ball to shake things up. Carnell Lake was at corner in place of injured star Rod Woodson, and rookie Kordell Stewart was starting to see increased action at wide receiver. The Steelers’ defense wasn’t performing like the “Steel Trap” of a year earlier. But stars like Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland and Joel Steed were looking to break out.

In the first quarter, Ray Seals pressured Kramer, who barely got the ball off. With a clear path to a pick-6, Kevin Greene was a step late and couldn’t nab the ball. Two neutral zone infractions on the first drive by the Steelers kept the drive alive, as Kramer drove the Bears into Steelers’ real estate. Fine defense by Willie Williams on Michael Timpson forced fourth down and a Kevin Butler 39-yard field goal made it 3-0 early. On their first drive, the Steelers saw a sharp Neil O’Donnell move the Steelers to the Chicago 36, only to punt after surviving a Charles Johnson fumble that was ruled an incompletion. On the drive to follow, Kramer threw upfield to the 30-yard line but it was picked off by Darren Perry, who returned the ball to the original spot at the 13. It was Perry’s third interception of the year and the Steelers were in serious business to score. However on 3rd-and-9, O’Donnell threw a screen to Erric Pegram to get down inside the 10-yard line. But Vinson Smith turned Pegram inside, forcing him into Carl Simpson, who forced a fumble that wound up in the arms of Smith. But Kramer and the modern-day Monsters of the Midway would surrender the ball again. Driving inside the Pittsburgh 35, Robert Green rolled off an eight-yard run, only to fumble the ball and watch as Darren Perry recovered it for his second takeaway of the first quarter.

The Steelers took over on a drive that extended into the second quarter. A mix of rushes by Pegram, catches by Yancey Thigpen and a 27-yard reception by Kordell Stewart got the Steelers down to the one. On a second effort plunge on the drive’s 14th play, Pegram plowed in for his fourth touchdown of the year. With Norm Johnson’s point-after, it was 7-3 Pittsburgh with 9:42 remaining in the second quarter. After Nate Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Steelers’ 26, the Bears had a short field to work with. A few plays later, the Bears regained the lead when Curtis Conway beat Lake on a 6-yard scoring pass from Kramer. But the Steelers followed the great return by Lewis with one of their own. Ernie Mills had a 46-yard return that set up the Steelers at the Chicago 49. Pittsburgh could only muster a 40-yard Norm Johnson field goal though. The score was tied at 10-10 with 2:40 remaining in the half. The Steelers would get another chance to take the lead right before halftime. With the Bears at midfield, their QB threw his second pick into the waiting arms of Greg Lloyd. No. 95 rumbled and tiptoed down the sideline to the Chicago five. After escaping pressure, O’Donnell dumped a pass off to Pegram, who found his way into the end zone for a 7-yard score and a 17-10 lead. The Bears were driving deep again and trying to tie the game before the half, but Anthony Johnson fumbled after getting cracked by Myron Bell. Darren Perry recovered for his third takeaway of the half.

Fortunes turned sour for the Steelers in the third quarter when Pegram absorbed a hit by Anthony Washington and Chris Zorich recovered his fumble at the Steelers’ 32. A few plays later, FB Tony Carter took a screen from Kramer and sped down the sideline for a 12-yard score. Carter stepped out at the one, but there was no instant replay in 1995 to overturn it. 17-17. The Bears then continued to come alive. After sacking O’Donnell twice and partially blocking a Rohn Stark punt, “Da Bears” took over on the Pittsburgh 39. Almost immediately, Kramer threw his third touchdown pass, this time to TE Ryan Wetnight for 14 yards and a 24-17 lead. However, the Steelers would put points on the board in the third. Norm Johnson’s 46-yard field goal cut the Bears’ lead to 24-20 with 4:17 left in the third. The Steelers stalled after that. O’Donnell, working from his own 20-yard line, was intercepted by Anthony Marshall. Chicago had great field position and looked ready to slam the door on their visitors. But solid coverage by Carnell Lake to break up a Graham TD halted the drive. Then Kevin Butler opened the scoring in the fourth quarter, extending the Bears’ lead to 27-20 with a 27-yard field goal.

Another fantastic return by Ernie Mills set the Steelers up at the Chicago 45. Pittsburgh capitalized after an amazing sideline catch by Yancey Thigpen that kept the drive alive for Pegram (behind great blocking by John L. Williams) to score from seven yards out to tie the score at 27 with 12:19 left. Alas the Bears mounted another drive, but a Ray Seals sack of Kramer forced a Todd Sauerbraun punt that the Bears downed at the Steeler three. Temporary disaster struck next when Alonzo Spellman beat Leon Searcy and tipped O’Donnell’s pass to Kevin Minter, handing him a two yard march to paydirt and a 34-20 lead. The mistake-fest continued as the Steelers’ gaffes matched the Bears’ turnover tally at four. The Steelers seemed defeated at this point. They couldn’t get past the 20 on their next possession and had to punt. With Graham returning the punt to the Pittsburgh 47, it looked like the Bears would close things out. The clock was rapidly draining as Salaam was moving the chains and moving the Bears into field-goal range. But on 3rd and 3, Jerry Olsavsky stopped Salaam and Butler came out to slam the door on the Steelers with 3:53 left in the game. But the Bears kicker, who hadn’t missed any of his 16 kicks all season, did just that. Butler, who had hooked his previous attempt and barely made it, overcompensated and the ball went with the wind, wide right.

Down by three, O’Donnell took over from his own 35. A pass to John L. moved the chains right away, but then Zorich’s sack of No. 14 made things look grim again. But O’Donnell dusted himself off and fired a strike to Charles Johnson for a first down at midfield. On 3rd and 7, Hastings caught a ball to barely move the chains at the 2-minute warning. After that, Neil threw a 27-yard beauty that Mills caught on his fingertips to get to the 15. On the next two plays, Hastings couldn’t hang on to passes. Then, on 3rd and 10, Fred McAfee got five yards on a screen, but a penalty on McAfee for illegal use of hands gave the Steelers a 3rd-and-18. O’Donnell threaded a needle to Hastings at the 6, but it was one yard shy. On 4th and 1, and without Bam Morris (who was out due to injury), the Steelers needed to convert with 1:10 left in the game. Things seemed dire when rookie Guard Brendan Stai was guilty of a flinch for a false start and the Steelers were marched backwards by five yards. But that opened up more field for Ernie Mills, who scored on an 11-yard pass from a calm O’Donnell.

What happened next was a brilliant move by the riverboat gambler, Bill Cowher. Knowing that the potent Bears had two timeouts and 1:06 remaining to get in position for a game-winning field goal, the Steelers seemingly huddled up for a go ahead 2-point conversion instead of sending out Johnson for the tie. This shrewd move forced Chicago to waste a timeout. Then Johnson came out and kicked the point-after, tying the score at 34. Johnson squibbed the kickoff and the Bears started at their own 38 with a minute left. Steelers Nation was as nervous as a snitch at an Italian restaurant urinal. But this crazy game turned once again. Kramer went for it all with a deep pass down the middle. Conway seemingly made a great catch, but the ball bounced off of his hands and into those of Willie Williams for another turnover. Williams returned the ball to the Steelers’ 38 and the black and gold suddenly found themselves in the same boat that Chicago had been in only seconds earlier — with a golden opportunity to win. Just like that, O’Donnell found Thigpen for 20 yards, but the offense couldn’t get close enough for Norm Johnson. So after a Hail Mary fell to the turf, the two teams headed for overtime.

To start OT, Chicago won the coin toss and elected to receive against the wind. The Steelers’ defense stopped Salaam on first down, got a gift when Kramer missed an open Conway on second down, and then rose to the occasion when Lake broke up a pass on third down to force a punt. Then the Steelers went to work from their own 31. On third and long, Mills caught a ball at the sticks on the sideline for a first down at the 42. As he had done all day, Pegram came up big again when he took a screen pass for 15 yards. After a first down catch by Johnson, rookie TE Mark Breuner got nine and Pegram was able to move the sticks by a hair on the next play. Offensive Coordinator Ron Erhardt relied on Pegram and Williams to get closer and closer on the ground. After getting the ball to the left hash, Johnson kicked a 24-yarder into the cold Chicago night to seal the 37-34 OT victory. The game set them on that course to the Super Bowl and it still stands as the Steelers’ only triumph over the Bears in the Windy City — EVER

November 30, 1997 - Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Arizona Cardinals 20 (OT)

The Pittsburgh Steelers were trying to keep their playoff hopes alive in a place that was all too unfriendly to them in 1997...the road. At 8-4, Bill Cowher’s Steelers had only won twice away from Three Rivers Stadium. After losing a game they were supposed to win in Philadelphia the week before, the Steelers tied atop the division with Jacksonville who already won on the day. Their foe was a 3-9 Arizona who had lost seven of their games decided in the final minute and four that went into OT. Couple it with being in a city that they have lost all three times they visited, including Super Bowl XXX...the Steelers needed to win badly.

QB Kordell Stewart, in his first full year as a starter, didn’t really need his passing arm, as the Steelers took to the ground and pretty much stayed there. Of the eleven plays on the opening Steeler drive, nine were runs. Most of them were executed by Jerome Bettis, who bullied his way for 39 yards and capped it off with a two-yard score.

The remainder of the half was mostly pedestrian on the offensive side of the ball for both teams. Arizona went three-and-out their first four drives. On their fifth drive, Plummer connected on a 43-yard bomb to Rob Moore, who burned Donnell Wolford in the process. The Steeler defense held and Joe Nedney buried a 32-yard field goal to cut their deficit to four. But behind the legs of Stewart and Bettis, Pittsburgh finished off a 12-play drive with a Norm Johnson 40-yarder. With 1:13 left in the first half, the visitors led 10-3. Vince Tobin’s men had an opportunity to tie the game before heading to the locker room, but Carnell Lake put a stop to that with two sacks on the series. It was his second and third of the half and the third (Mike Vrabel and Kevin Henry combined for one and Chris Oldham got the other) of the Steeler’s five sacks the first 30 minutes.

The second half saw more offensive action as Jake Plummer and Frank Sanders hooked up three times for 45 yards on their opening drive of the new half. The third connection was for a 3-yard TD and the score 10-10. The Steelers roared right back though, as Kordell drove the o 80 yards with five completions. On 2nd and goal from the Arizona 7, Bettis barreled in for his second score to put the Steelers up 17-10 with 4:20 to go in the third. The festival of scoring continued when Plummer took to the air again with passes to Moore, Sanders and, finally, Chris Gedney for a score from 11-yards out. With only a minute left in the third, it was tied again at 17.

In the fourth, Norm Johnson kicked another field goal for a three-point lead. But Jake Plummer was on fire and had something to prove. Another long pass of 44 to Moore got Zona inside the Steeler 10. With a 3rd and Goal at the Steeler 1, Nolan Harrison and Darren Perry saved the game by stuffing Larry Centers for a loss of one. The Cards had to settle for a game-tying field goal with 4:20 left in the game. What could have been the winning series was not. The Steelers couldn’t get past their own 42 and punted to the Cards, pinning them deep at the 15. But “Jake the Snake” was finding himself (with a 15-yard scramble) and hit Rob Moore twice again for a total of 50 yards on the drive. With :22 seconds left and definitely in Nedney’s range, Nolan Harrison came up huge with another sack of Plummer (ten total on the day). Nedney, who won the previous week’s game with a 43-yarder at the gun, marched on and lined up for the game winner. But his 46-yarder swung right and both teams headed to overtime.

Arizona won the toss, but Levon Kirkland and Jason Gildon continued “Blitzburgh Sackapalooza” and Feagles punted again. Courtney Hawkins fielded the punt and the Steelers set up shop at their own 48. Kordell went to work and hooked up for two passes for 32 yards to Thigpen. With the transplant-heavy Arizona crowd chanting “Here we go Steelers”, Bettis rumbled twice for eight yards to the ten. On third down and two, the Bus bounced off two tacklers and one of of his own lineman into the end zone for a thrilling win. The crowd rejoiced as Pittsburgh moved to 9-4 and remained in a tie with Jacksonville at the top of the AFC Central. Both Bettis’ ninth 100-yard rushing game of the season (161 total yards) and three scores were paramount for the Steelers, especially as he shredded a defensive line coached by Steeler legend Joe Greene. Rob Moore’s 188 receiving yards fueled Arizona. But without Jim Haslett’s stifling defense, the Steelers would have fallen in the desert night. The win for Pittsburgh was their first ever in Arizona and put them back on track to defeat both Denver and New England to reach the playoffs. Their journey ended a game short of the Super Bowl in January, but this game was another memorable contest from a pretty cool season.

December 7, 2008 - Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Dallas Cowboys 13

With 8-4 Dallas traveling to Heinz Field to renew the epic and storied rivalry of the 70s and 90s with the 9-3 Pittsburgh Steelers, it was a crucial game for both teams who were competing for their respective division crowns.

With what would become a turnover fest of seven between the two clubs, Dallas’ Tony Romo started the carnage of ineptitude by getting picked-off by Troy Polamalu. However, the Steelers couldn’t convert when Jeff Reed’s 45-yarder sailed wide right. Late in the first, the Steelers started with great field position at their own 49, but Heath Miller caught a pass from Ben Roethlisberger for a gain of eight and promptly fumbled. Bradie James recovered to thwart the threat. In the second quarter, the Cowboys were driving again, but turned the ball over on downs when a Romo offering to Terrell Owens fell incomplete. The missed opportunities continued when James Harrison sacked Romo on 3rd and 8 at the Steeler 42 with Travis Kirschke recovering for the Steelers. Again Pittsburgh returned the favor when Roethlisberger ran for a first down on 3rd and 1 at the Dallas 36, but fumbled the ball away to none other than Bradie James. After a few more punts, Romo threw an interception deep in his own territory to Ike Taylor. The Steelers only got three points out of the deal, courtesy of a 24-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Dallas countered with a Nick Folk FG to make the score 3-3 at the half.

Dallas got it together after the half. Between throws by Romo and the legs of Tashard Choice, the “Boys” capitalized when TO pulled in a Romo pass from 12-yards out for a 10-3 score in favor of the hated visitors. After another Steeler punt, Dallas was driving again. But with a 3rd and goal at the Steeler seven, James Farriornailed Romo for a loss of 8 yards on a sack. Nick Folk nailed a 33-yarder to extend the Dallas lead. It was looking quite grim as the game was starting to slip away at 13-3. Trying to get back into the game, the Steelers went on a 12-play and 79-yard drive that extended into the fourth quarter. It ended though when Gary Russell failed to get in from the one on fourth down. But all was not lost. Dallas couldn’t convert and Santonio Holmes returned the Dallas punt 35-yards to the Dallas 25. Phooey, as the Steelers could only muster a 41-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. 13-6 Dallas.

The team from Texas had a chance to put their foot on the a throat of Mike a Tomlin’s club, but they went three-and-out. The Steelers, behind three catches and 51 yards from Nate Washington and a 4th and 1 conversion from Ben, got down to the Dallas 6 right before the two-minute warning. With 2:10 left, No. 7 hit Heath Miller on a six-yard toss to tie it at 13. Miller drug Cowboys defender Ken Hamlin on his back into the end zone and Heinz Field was rocking. Then the stadium on the North Side nearly exploded two plays later when Deshea Townsend took a Romo pass intended for Jason Witten all the way to the house and a 20-13 lead with 1:51 left. After the kickoff, Romo threw four straight incompletions and the Steelers ran out the clock for a thrilling comeback victory.\

The Steelers went on to beat Baltimore in a thrilling game on the road to clinch the division and eventually win their sixth Super Bowl in February. But this was the one game that seemed to label the Steelers as serious contenders and in the conversation as a team of destiny.

December 20, 2009 - Pittsburgh Steelers 37, Green Bay Packers 36

In Steel City sports, the Steelers were the defending champs, but they were reeling. After five-straight losses, Mike Tomlin’s team was 6-7 and facing a tough 9-4 squad led by Greenfield’s Mike McCarthy. A win before the Christmas holiday would not only have promised to be a gift to Steeler Nation, but momentum to build on for 2010.

The Pack received the opening kickoff, but went three-and-out. On the first play from scrimmage for the Steelers, the Heinz Field crowd saw their team strike big for a 60-yard score. QB Ben Roethlisberger faked the stretch play to the left, rolled to his right and connected on a bomb to rookie Mike Wallace at the ten. Wallace beat Jared Bush and took it the rest of the way. With only :32 seconds elapsed, the Steelers led 7-0. After an exchange of punts, the Packers had a big-play answer of their own when Aaron Rodgers floated a pass over the middle to Greg Jennings, who spun off of Tyrone Carter near who spun off of Tyrone Carter near midfield and sprinted all of the way to the end zone for a 83-yard score and a tie game. Then the Steelers found themselves with a 1st and Goal at the two and when Rashard Mendenhal took a handoff he was crunched immediately, but able to keep upright enough to follow Doug Legursky’s block for the score and a 14-7 advantage.

In the second quarter, the Pack had a chance to answer back. However, Mason Crosby missed a 34-yarder. But late in the quarter, on a 3rd and 6 from the Steeler 14, Rodgers dropped back to pass and scrambled left to outrun Brett Keisel for a rushing TD. The game was tied at 14 with 3:10 left in the half. But there was enough time for the Steelers to regain the lead. After Santonio Holmes hooked up with Ben on a long play of 33 yards, the Steelers struck again. On 2nd and Goal, Pittsburgh stacked two receivers to the left. The underneath man, Mewelde Moore, broke free and caught the ball for a score from ten-out. With :30 seconds left in the half, it was the Steelers 21 and the Packers 14.

In the second half, Jeff Reed’s 37-yarder extended the Pittsburgh lead to 24-14. That was the only scoring in the third, but the fourth was where the explosion of points occurred. A mere 1:25 in, Rodgers threw a fade pass to a leaping Jermichael Finley on a 3rd and 6 from the Steeler 11 and the touchdown, thus cutting the Steeler lead to only three. But Jeff Reed’s 34-yarder doubled the Steeler advantage. it was now 27-21 in favor of the home team. The home team’s lead would be relinquished when, after a Jordy Nelson 27-yard catch-and-run, Ryan Grant’s 24-yard gallop allowed Green Bay’s first lead of the game with only 7:58 to go on the scoreboard. But on the very next drive, a Roethlisberger-to-Ward play gained 54, only to have the series stall and the Steelers forced to settle for a Jeff Reed 43-yarder and a 30-28 advantage. In a head-scratcher, Tomlin and the Steelers went for the jugular when Jeff Reed attempted an onside kick, but the recovery was nullified when Ike Taylor illegal touched the ball a yard short of the mandatory ten. Green Bay would get the ball in good field position and take advantage of the opportunity when James Jones, on a blown coverage by Joe Burnett, caught an A-A-Rod pass for 24 yards and an end zone destination. When Brandon Jackson caught the two-pointer, the Pack realized a 36-30 lead with only 2:12 remaining. Only 2:01 remained when Big Ben went to work on a 86-yard drive. Despite enduring two sacks, No. 7 found a tip-toeing Wallace in the end zone’s corner for a miraculous score with only :03 seconds left. The game rested on the toe of Reed, who converted to give the Steelers a crazy 37-36 win. Both offenses nearly combined for a thousand yards as two great quarterbacks slung the pig with authority all day long.

The Steelers would win their remaining two games, but couldn’t get the help to make it into the playoffs. Ending on such a high note, the Steelers did indeed continue that momentum in 2010. So the seeds for the following year’s conference crown were sewn that day. Unfortunately, that dream ended against the very team they defeated this day, the Green Bay Packers.

October 26, 2019 - Pittsburgh Steelers 17, Los Angeles Rams 12

The start the NFL season for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019 was so disastrous that the Miami Dolphins went away from better deals for Minkah Fitzpatrick to trade with Pittsburgh who they felt would have a top three pick after losing Ben Roethlisberger for the season in Week 2. But by the time the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams went head-to-head in Week 10 at Heinz Field, the duo of Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges quarterbacked the black and gold from 1-4 start to a .500 record at 4-4. The Steelers came into the game winners of their last three games, and in the llast of a three-game home stand for the black-and-gold, they would need a big performance from both sides of the ball to extend their winning streak to four games.

Pittsburgh’s offense, led by Mason Rudolph, took the field first and on the third play from scrimmage, Maurkice Pouncey snapped the ball over his quarterback’s head and Dante Fowler scooped up the football and proceeded to run it into the end zone for the first score of the game. In the blink of an eye, the Steelers were down 7-0 with just 20 seconds gone from the first quarter. On third down on their next possession, a Rudolph pass sailed through JuJu Smith-Schuster’s hands and what would have been a first down turned into a Jordan Berry punt. Rudolph would get a receiver to clutch a scoring pass late in the quarter though when a defensive pass interference call on Jalen Ramsey opened the door for the first offensive touchdown of the game, a James Washington scoring grab from the 3.

The second quarter saw more punts than points scored, but the Steelers looked to strike for the first time in the second frame when Rudolph hit Washington for a huge catch and run. On the run after the catch Washington fumbled the football and it was recovered by Rams, it was the Steelers’ second turnover of the game. With 2:15 left in the first half, Jared Goff dropped back on 3rd and 7 and his throwing arm was struck by NT Javon Hargrave. The ball squirted forward, and was picked up by Minkah Fitzpatrick for the touchdown and the Men of Steel took their first lead of the game, 14-7. Late in the second, Sean McVay’s Rams, with 1:24 to go, moved the ball quickly into Pittsburgh territory and were able to attempt a 56-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, but the kick went wide left keeping the Steelers up by 7 heading into the locker room at intermission..

Los Angeles received the ball to start the third quarter, but after converting and still searching to convert their first third down of the game. They did, but then Goff was immediately intercepted by Joe Haden. Later in the third and with Jared Goff on the sideline with an apparent injury, the Steelers defense forced a fourth and short. Sean McVay elected to try and fake the punt, but the pass was intercepted by Trey Edmunds, giving Pittsburgh prime position to add to their lead. They were unable to do so and a returning Goff and company moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory with relative ease, but once in the red-zone things tightened up and the Pittsburgh defense forced a field goal attempt. Zuerlein’s 30-yard kick was good, making the score 14-10 at the end of the third quarter.

The tide looked to be turning the Rams’ direction when Aaron Donald sacked Mason Rudolph in the end zone for the safety. The two points made the score 14-12 with 12:34 left in regulation. With Pittsburgh’s defense getting a three-and-out after the free kick, Rudolph converted two big third down opportunities to move the ball into the Heinz Red-Zone. But, the drive was halted and the offense was relegated to settling for a 33-yard Chris Boswell field goal to extend the advantage to 17-12 with 2:46 left in the fourth quarter. But the Rams offense moved quickly into Steelers’ territory, and while facing a 4th-and-10 a pass into the end zone was broken up by Terrell Edmunds with no flag. The Steelers’ offense just needed one first down to ice the game, but the Steelers offense was sputtering and had to punt. It looked like Goff would lead the visitors 60-yards to glory in the remaining 1:01. T.J. Watt had other ideas though and sacked the Rams QB, but Coleman Shelton retained the ball to give L.A. the ball back until a Minkah Fitzpatrick interception on a tipped pass to Robert Woods ended the game. The Steelers win moved their record to 5-4 on the season, the first time the team rose above .500 for their fourth straight victory. This was a big win for a team that wasn’t supposed to win again after losing their QB at the seasons’ beginning.