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Choosing the Steelers best game of 2021: A Heinz Field farewell or a near collapse

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

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/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 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 Heinz Field send off of a legend in Week 17 against the Browns and Week 5 win over the Broncos that almost slipped away.

Week 17 vs. the Cleveland Browns: 26-14


The Pittsburgh Steelers came into their final game at Heinz Field of the 2021 season with a record of 7-7-1 for a Monday night matchup against the 7-8 Cleveland Browns. Not only would the loser be eliminated from playoff contention, it was Ben Roethlisberger‘s final home game of his illustrious Steelers career.

After the first three drives of the game, two by the Steelers and one by the Browns, did not cross midfield, Cleveland moved into Pittsburgh territory on the first play of their second drive after a 32-yard Nick Chubb run. But on fourth and seven from the Steelers 38, Cam Heyward knocked down Baker Mayfield‘s pass and Steelers took over on downs. Moving in the Cleveland territory and just out of Chris Boswell field goal range, the Steelers attempted a fourth and five from the Cleveland 36 with less than a minute to go on the quarter but the pass feel incomplete.

The first play of the second quarter saw a Cleveland punt as T.J. Watt finished the first stanza with one of his four sacks on the night. The Steelers next drive, aided by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty when Jadeveon Clowney threw Chase Claypool’s shoe, was finished off with a 5-yard touchdown to Diontae Johnson and the Steelers took a 7-0 lead.

After trading three and outs, the Browns took over possession at their own 26-yard line only for the first play the drive to see an Ahkello Witherspoon interception of Baker Mayfield. Taking over at the Cleveland 43, the Steelers possessed the ball nearly four minutes but came up short once getting inside the 5-yard line and settled for 22-yard Chris Boswell field goal to push their lead to 10-0.

Cleveland moved the ball down the field on their next position only to be pushed out of field-goal range on another third down sack by T.J. Watt. Taking over at their own 19-yard line with 0:34 left in the half, the Steelers attempted to move the ball into field goal range but the half ended with a Ben Roethlisberger interception.

The second half began with another Browns three and out with a third-down sack of Baker Mayfield, this time by Cameron Heyward. The Steelers saw a 30-yard run by Najee Harris move the ball across midfield but the Steelers once again had to settle for a field goal in the red zone when Chris Boswell connected from 30 yards out and pushed the lead to 13-0.

When the Browns next position once again came up short on a third-down sack by T.J. Watt, the Steelers took over at their own 5-yard line. Getting a little bit of wiggle room with rushes of three and four yards by Najee Harris, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked in his own 4-yard line and Corliss Waitman’s 53-yard punt was returned 9 yards giving the Browns possession in Steelers territory. After a 39-yard completion on the first play of the drive, the Browns finished it off with a Baker Mayfield pass to David Njoku to cut the lead to 13-7.

After a second straight three and out by the Steelers, the final play of the third-quarter was much like that of the first quarter with Baker Mayfield being sacked, this time by Alex Highsmith. After getting one first down, the Browns saw a 21-yard punt out of bounds and the Steelers took over at their own 43-yard line. Moving the ball into Cleveland territory, Chris Boswell connected for a 50-yard field goal to push the Steelers lead to 16-7 with less than 10 minutes to play.

After taking over on their own 25-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, the Browns lost 20 yards on the drive and were forced to kick from their own 5-yard line. With a 46-yard punt and a 14-yard return by Ray-Ray McCloud, the Steelers were set up at the Cleveland 37-yard line. After Najee Harris gave the Steelers seven yards in the first two rushing plays, the Steelers couldn’t convert on third down and settled for a 48-yard Chris Boswell field goal for a 19-7 lead with just under six minutes left.

After back-to-back sacks by T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, the Browns were faced with a fourth and 19 from their own 25 yard line but were bailed out on a pass interference call against Joe Haden. Getting the assistance of another pass interference call at the goal line, the Browns ultimately scored a 1-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Bryant with 1:10 left in the game pushing the score to 19-14.

After Minkah Fitzpatrick recovered the onside kick, the Steelers were looking to run the ball to run out the clock. After back-to-back 4-yard rushes by Najee Harris, his third and two attempt with one minute remaining in the game broke free of the line of scrimmage and Harris scampered to the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown pushing the score to 26–14. With 0:15 remaining in the game, a Baker Mayfield pass was intercepted by Tre Norwood, giving Ben Roethlisberger one last play in victory formation at Heinz Field in his final home game.


View highlights of the Week 17 victory over the Browns via the NFL YouTube channel HERE.

Week 5 vs. the Denver Broncos: 27-19


The 1-3 Pittsburgh Steelers returned to Heinz Field in Week 5 in an attempt to end their three-game losing streak against the 2–2 Denver Broncos. Starting off on the right foot, the Steelers took their opening drive and put it in the end zone in under three minutes as Ben Roethlisberger connected with Diontae Johnson for a 50-yard touchdown on third and six.

Forcing Denver to a three and out, the Steelers moved the ball from inside their own 20 to midfield when Ben Roethlisberger was sacked and fumbled the ball which was returned by the Broncos to the Steelers 29-yard line.

Still not surrendering a first down, the Steelers defense held the Broncos to a field goal and the score was 7-3 with less than two minutes to go in the opening quarter. The Steelers responded on the next drive, highlighted by a13-yard pass to Zach Gentry and a 20-yard Najee Harris run and settled for a 48-yard Chris Boswell field goal to push their lead to 10-3.

The Steelers continued their stifling defense and did not give up another first down as the two teams traded three and outs. And after a 13-yard punt return by the Broncos set them up at their own 40-yard line, Denver got their first first down of the day on a 49-yard run by Javonte Williams where he was tackled just shy of the goal line by James Pierre. After spiking the ball following the play, the Broncos were pushed back an additional five yards which may have been the difference in four points. On second and five, Devin Bush threw Teddy Bridgewater for 12-yard sack and the Broncos ultimately settled for three points with a 29-yard field goal.

The Steelers answered the very next drive. After losing JuJu Smith-Schuster with a shoulder injury on the first play, Chase Claypool had a 59-yard catch and run which put the ball into the Denver red zone. After a pass interference call in favor of Diontae Johnson in the end zone put the ball with the 1-yard line, Najee Harris finished off the drive to put the Steelers up 17–6 just before the two minute warning.

After the Broncos quickly moved across midfield, a false start moved them back into their own territory and they ultimately settled for a punt. Deep in their own territory, the Steelers managed to gain a first down before running out the clock and going to halftime up 17-6.

The Broncos opening possession of the second half saw them cross midfield again only to stall and settle for a punt. With the Steelers starting at their own 14-yard line, they moved into Bronco territory where they believed they were settling for a 50-yard Chris Boswell field goal. Although the kick was good, the Broncos were called for a 15-yard penalty for leverage and three plays later on third and 10 Ben Roethlisberger connected with Chase Claypool for an 18-yard touchdown.

Trailing 24-6, the Broncos began the fourth quarter going for a fourth and five from their own 49-yard line. Stretching for the first down, the Broncos drive continued and they once again faced a fourth and two from the Steelers 28. On this occasion, Courtland Sutton hauled in a 25-yard pass from Teddy Bridgewater to set the Broncos up first and goal from the three. After a holding penalty pushed the Broncos back to the 13, they once again went for it on fourth down from the 2-yard line and completed the pass to Kendall Hilton, a similar play design the Ravens later ran on their two-point conversion against the Steelers in Week 13, and to cut into the lead at 24-13.

After another three and out by the Steelers, the Broncos made short work of moving 72 yards topped off with a 39-yard touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton. Attempting to cut the deficit to three points, the Broncos failed on their two-point conversion attempt and the score was 24-19.

With only a five point lead, the Steelers move the ball 49 yards and answered with a 43-yard Chris Boswell field goal on fourth and one from the Denver 26 to push the lead to 27-19 with 2:29 remaining in the game.

On the ensuing drive, the Broncos picked up a 23-yard pass to Tim Patrick on the second play to bring the ball close to midfield. After moving the ball to the Steelers 32-yard line, Kendall Hilton brought in a 23-yard pass to move the ball inside the Steelers 10-yard line. After an incompletion, a 6-yard pass, and another incompletion, the Broncos were faced with a fourth down on the 3-yard line with 0:17 remaining. Needing just an incompletion, the Steelers instead got an interception by James Pierre in the end zone and the Steelers offense took a knee from the 20 yard line to win the game 27–19.

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

  • 91%
    Week 17 vs. Cleveland (26-14)
    (307 votes)
  • 8%
    Week 5 vs. Denver (27-19)
    (27 votes)
334 votes total Vote Now

For the other second-round games, the polls are still open:


Which game was the better Steelers game in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    Week 13 vs. Baltimore (20-19)
    (142 votes)
  • 64%
    Week 18 at Baltimore (16-13 in OT)
    (261 votes)
403 votes total Vote Now


Which game was the better Steelers game in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Week 15 vs. Tennessee (19-13)
    (242 votes)
  • 41%
    Week 8 at Cleveland (15-10)
    (172 votes)
414 votes total Vote Now