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Choosing the Steelers best game of 2021: The play-in game

It’s a bracket-style showdown to decide which game from the 2021 season was the best performance by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Chicago Bears v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 offseason is rolling into the last week before the dog days of summer kick in. With players taking the practice field fresh on our mind and the anticipation towards the fall continues to grow, there have been several moments from the 2021 season which has fallen out of some of our memories. But if we were to look back at the Steelers season, the final one for future-Hall-of-Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, what was the best game for the Steelers?

Rather than simply answer the question, we have plenty of time to come to this decision. Instead of throwing out all the nominees and leave one big poll, these games are going to face off in a bracket-style contests to see which one BTSC chooses as the best Steelers game of 2021.

First, I’m specifically using the term best and not defining it in any way for the benefit of everyone involved. Perhaps what is the best for one doesn’t need to be what the best is for another. Maybe one game someone attended in person and appreciates it even more while another game saw a specific great play from a favorite player. Maybe one fan enjoys games that come down to the wire and the Steelers pull it off, while others feel much better when the Steelers have a little bit more of a cushion. Exactly what you feel is best is completely up to you.

To set up how this will work, we are only going to include Steelers victories from the 2021 season. Can we really say that their best game came in a loss or a tie? Rather than waste our time throwing those into the mix, we’re going to stick with the nine wins from the Steelers 2021 campaign.

But with nine games comes an uneven bracket. For this reason, there will be one play-in game, featured today, in order to get down to eight contests and a nice even bracket. I seeded the games without putting much thought into it simply to give matchups. I also tweaked a couple things to give a more intriguing face off between games, but not enough to make it overwhelmingly different.

Starting today, BTSC will be deciding a winner to move on each day for the next week until the best game is determined. Make sure you vote in the poll at the bottom of the article to help determine which game moves on to the next round.

The first match up, the play-in game, features the only two victories for the Steelers in the 2021 season where they did not cover the spread: Week 9 vs. the Bears and Week 6 vs. the Seahawks.


Week 9 vs. the Chicago Bears (MNF): 29-27

Recap:

The Pittsburgh Steelers wore the color rush uniforms for Week 9 of the 2021 NFL season as they hosted the 3-5 Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. Entering the game at 4–3, the Steelers were winners of three games straight coupled with their bye week as they faced Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears.

Jumping out to a 14-0 lead with touchdowns from rookies Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth, the Bears got on the scoreboard in the final seconds of the second quarter for a 14–3 halftime score.

After the Steelers came up short on their first drive of the second half, Chicago held the ball for almost 5 minutes and ended with another Cairo Santos field goal to cut the lead to 14–6. The Steelers responded on the next drive with another touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth and appeared to have the game in hand at 20-6 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter even with a missed extra point.

The Bears scored quickly to open the fourth quarter and cut the Steelers lead to a touchdown, but the Steelers added a 54 yard field goal by Chris Boswell as well as recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. But when the Steelers failed to gain any yardage, being forced to punt from the Bears 39-yard line kept Chicago in the game.

On a three and out halfway through the fourth quarter when T.J. Watt ended the drive with a sack, Ray-Ray McCloud fumbled the punt which was returned 25 yards for a touchdown and cut the Steelers lead to 23-20. The Steelers answered by moving the ball 41 yards and added another long field goal from Chris Boswell which extended their lead to 26–20.

Only seven plays later, the Chicago Bears finished off a 75-yard drive in just over one minute and grabbed their first lead of the game 27–26 with only 1:46 remaining. The Steelers answered with their own eight play drive and regained the lead with 0:26 remaining on a 40-yard field goal by Chris Boswell. After moving the ball 28 yards, the Bears came up short on a 65-yard field goal attempt to win the game.

Highlights:

View highlights of the Week 9 victory over the Bears via the Steelers YouTube channel HERE.


Week 6 vs. the Seattle Seahawks (SNF): 23-20 (OT)

Recap:

Before heading into their bye week, the 2-3 Steelers hosted the 2-3 Seahawks without their star quarterback Russell Wilson for a Sunday night game at Heinz Field.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Steelers put up two rushing touchdowns in the second, one by Najee Harris and another by tight and Eric Ebron, to take a 14-0 halftime lead. The Seahawks cut the score in half on their opening drive of the third quarter with an Alex Collins touchdown run only for the Steelers to respond with a short Chris Boswell field goal to push the lead to 17-7. The Seahawks came right back with a 60-yard touchdown drive to cut the Steelers lead to three. After a three and out, the Seahawks regained possession and kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 17-17.

After a Ben Roethlisberger fumble gave the ball back to the Seahawks, both teams exchanged punts before the Steelers held the Seahawks to another three and out. With just over five minutes left in the game, the Steelers put together a 40-yard drive finished off with a 52-yard field goal from Chris Boswell to take the lead with 1:30 remaining.

Seattle responded with a 50-yard drive of their own in order to connect on a 43-yard field goal as time expired and sent the game to overtime.

After the Seahawks won the coin toss and moved the ball across midfield, T.J. Watt pushed Seattle back with a 13-yard sack on third and four to force a punt. After a three and out by the Steelers, T.J. Watt took over the game again with a strip sack of Geno Smith on the very next play giving the Steelers the ball in the red zone. Three plays later, Chris Boswell connected from 37 yards out to give the Steelers the 23–20 victory.

View highlights of the Steelers Week 6 victory over the Seahawks via the NFL YouTube channel HERE.


So there are the two games highlighted in this first matchup to determine the Steelers best game of the 2021 season. Is there something else that stands out to you from either of these games? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Poll

Which game was the better Steelers game in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Week 9 vs. Chicago (29-27)
    (75 votes)
  • 60%
    Week 6 vs. Seattle (23-20 in OT)
    (117 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now