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 was one play-in game, featured Friday, 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.
Continuing on, 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 next matchup features a game with a lot of field goals versus one where the Steelers lost their kicker: Week 15 vs. the Tennessee Titans and Week 8 in Cleveland.
Week 15 vs. the Tennessee Titans: 19-13
After an extended break from the Thursday night matchup the previous week, the Pittsburgh Steelers were 6-6-1 when they hosted the 9-4 Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field in Week 15.
After exchanging punts to start the game, the Steelers went three and out on their second possession only to see the Titans return the kick for 55 yards and have a 10-yard penalty tacked on the end. Already in field goal position starting to drive at the 25-yard line, the Titans completed a third and eight at the Steelers 12-yard line and quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a 1-yard quarterback sneak to finish off the drive with seven points.
After another three and out by the Steelers, the Titans got good field possession near midfield after a 32-yard punt. The Titans moved the ball inside the Steelers 10-yard line but the drive stalled and they settled for a field goal and a 10-0 lead in the final minutes of the first quarter.
The Steelers managed one first down before having to punt yet again but got the ball right back three plays later when Arthur Maulet forced a fumble recovered by Minkah Fitzpatrick. Set up at the Tennessee 36-yard line, the Steelers moved the ball into the red zone only to settle for a Chris Boswell 36-yard field goal.
With 10:35 left in the second quarter, the Titans had a 20-play drive which ended with a 32-yard field goal with 0:21 left in the first half which would prove to be their last score of the game. The Steelers managed to move the ball 40 yards on three plays in 17 seconds to give Chris Boswell a 56-yard attempt to end the half. Unfortunately, the kick came up just short and the Titans held a 13-3 lead going into the half.
With three punts coming to start the second half, to by Tennessee and one by Pittsburgh, the Steelers were able to sustain a drive which was capped off with a Ben Roethlisberger quarterback sneak for the final rushing touchdown of his career.
Still trailing 13–10, the Steelers Joe Haden recovered a fumble giving the Steelers the ball at the Tennessee 41-yard line at the end of the third quarter. Taking the drive down all the way to the Tennessee 10-yard line, the Steelers had to settle for a 28-yard Chris Boswell field goal to tie the game a minute and a half into the fourth quarter.
The Titans moved the ball just across midfield on the next drive when on third and three Taco Charlton batted a Ryan Tannehill pass which was intercepted by Joe Schobert and returned 23 yards to the Tennessee 31-yard line. Although the Steelers didn’t gain a first down on the drive, they finished it off with a 46-yard Chris Boswell field goal and took their first lead the game 16-13 midway through the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing drive, after Ryan Tannehill rushed for 11 yards, Tennessee botched the snap and T.J. Watt pounced on the ball to give the Steelers another possession starting in Titans territory. Once again not gaining a first down, Chris Boswell‘s 48-yard field goal width 4:29 remaining in the game gave the Steelers a 19–13 lead.
The Tennessee Titans, starting at their own 25-yard line, crossed midfield in two plays. Facing a fourth and one at the Steelers 33-yard line, D’Onta Foreman managed just enough yardage to extend the drive. Taking the ball inside the Steelers red zone, Ryan Tannehill was sacked by Derek Tuszka on the strip sack in which Tennessee recovered the ball despite the fact they were called for holding on the play. After getting eight yards on third and 15, the Titans were forced to go for it on fourth and six at the Steelers 16-yard line with less than a minute remaining. On what looked to be a certain conversion on a pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Joe Haden saved the day and made an excellent tackle by attacking the football to seal the victory for the Steelers.
View highlights of the Week 15 victory over the Titans via the NFL YouTube channel HERE.
Week 8 at the Cleveland Browns: 15-10
The 3-3 Steelers, coming off of their bye week, headed into Cleveland as 4.5-point underdogs to face the 4-3 Browns. The Browns opened the game with nearly a seven-minute drive and took the ball down to the Steelers 7-yard line before Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt combined for a Baker Mayfield sack on third and seven and forced the Browns to settle for a field goal.
After moving the ball across midfield, the Steelers were pushed back on a penalty and had to settle for a punt. As the Browns moved the ball across midfield at the end of the quarter, they were faced with a fourth and one at the Steelers 39-yard line. The Steelers defense snuffed out the play and regained possession at their own 40-yard line.
The Steelers answered with their own five minute drive in which they ended with a Chris Boswell 31-yard field goal, his only points scored on the day. After three straight drives of three and outs, two by the Browns and one by the Steelers, Pittsburgh moved the ball into Cleveland territory and into the red zone. Facing a fourth at nine at the Cleveland 10-yard line with 1:45 remaining in the half, the Steelers faked the field goal only to have the Chris Boswell pass fall incomplete and a roughing the passer was not called which knocked Boswell out for the remainder of the game.
Holding the Browns on their next drive, the Steelers opted not to use any of their time outs to save clock and took a knee to end the second quarter since they did not have a field goal kicker and went to the locker room tied at 3-3.
The Steelers opened the second half with a three and out only to see the Browns move the ball 84 yards which was capped off with a 10-yard D’Ernest Johnson touchdown.
Moving the ball close to midfield, the Steelers went for it on fourth and one on their own 48-yard line which Najee Harris narrowly converted. Adding pass plays of 16 yards to Chase Claypool and 22 yards to Pat Freiermuth, Najee Harris finished off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. With no kicker, the Steelers went for the two-point conversion in which Ben Roethlisberger had a successful run only to have the play called back for an offensive holding which may not have occurred until after Roethlisberger cross the goal line. On the second attempt from the 12-yard line, Roethlisberger‘s pass around the line of scrimmage fell harmlessly to the ground and the Steelers still trailed 10-9.
Despite Pressley Harvin having to handle the kickoff duties and sent the ball out of bounds, the Browns could not take advantage of the good field position and punted the ball back to the Steelers with just under two minutes left in the third quarter. The Steelers responded with an 83-yard touchdown drive capped off on a fourth and goal from the 2-yard line. Had the Steelers had a kicker available, they likely would have attempted to take the lead in the game, but the extra points for the touchdown changed everything as the game played on. Unfortunately, the Steelers did not have a successful conversion yet again and the score stood at 15–10.
On the next Browns possession, they moved into long field goal range when Baker Mayfield completed a pass to the Steelers 20-yard line only to see Jarvis Landry fumble the ball as it was knocked loose by Joe Schobert and recovered by T.J. Watt. The Steelers followed up the turnover with another three and out but pushed the Browns back to their own 39-yard line. Quickly moving across midfield, the Browns faced a fourth and 12 at the Steelers 26-yard line coming out of the two-minute warning. But Minkah Fitzpatrick knocked the ball away from Jarvis Landry and the Steelers took over on downs.
On the second play of the Steelers drive, Diontae Johnson caught a short slant route and broke the play for 50 yards taking the ball down close to the red zone. Faced with a fourth and 13 with 0:06 remaining in the game, Ben Roethlisberger rolled out and heaved the ball into the end zone to run out the clock and seal the victory.
View highlights of the Steelers Week 8 victory over the Browns via the NFL YouTube channel HERE.
So there are the two games highlighted in this second-round 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.
Which game was the better Steelers game in 2021?
This poll is closed
Week 15 vs. Tennessee (19-13)
Week 8 at Cleveland (15-10)