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Choosing the Steelers best game of 2021: The big upset or the OT squeaker

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

Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/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 last 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 final second-round matchup features an upset of the Bills in Week 1 and the OT winner in Week 6 against the Seahawks.

Week 1 vs. the Buffalo Bills: 23-16


The Steelers started off the 2021 season by traveling to Buffalo as 6.5-point underdogs. The game did not start off on the right foot after a 75-yard return on the opening kick off by Isaiah McKenzie set the Bills up at the Steelers 24-yard line. But the defense dug in and did not allow a first down and the Bills had to settle for a 37-yard field goal to open the game 3-0.

After a drive by each team which approached midfield but could not push any further resulting in a punt, the teams again exchanged three andouts just before the end of the first quarter. The punt fest continued into the second quarter as the streak of seven straight possessions ending in a punt was ended when T.J. Watt had a strip sack of Josh Allen recovered by Cameron Heyward at their own 45-yard line.

Despite moving into Bills territory on the first play of the drive, the very next play saw a Ben Roethlisberger sack and the Steelers were forced to punt yet again with just over six minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Buffalo Bills then put together a methodical drive which took over five and a half minutes and ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis with 0:22 left in the first half and sent the teams to the locker room with a 10-0 score.

The Steelers begin the third quarter with a nice drive over their own which lasted four and a half minutes and was highlighted by back-to-back to plays of 19 yards to Eric Ebron and 22 yards to Chase Claypool. Unfortunately, the drive stalled at the Buffalo 6-yard line and the Steelers got on the board for the first time with a 24-yard Chris Boswell field goal to make the score 10–3.

Buffalo responded with a significant drive of their own which reached the Steelers 35-yard line. Rather than attempting a long field goal, the Bills went for it on fourth and eighth but the pass was defended by Cameron Sutton.

The Steelers responded by once again moving the ball deep into Buffalo territory aided by a 24-yard pass to Pat Freiermuth and a 25-yard run by Chase Claypool. Once again the Steelers came up short at the Buffalo 2-yard line and ended with a 20-yard Chris Boswell field goal to push the score of 10-6 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The Bills reached midfield for the start of the fourth quarter and were faced with a fourth and one at the Steelers 41-yard line. Once again going for it, Cameron Sutton blew up the play in the backfield for a 7-yard loss and the Steelers took over at their own 48-yard line. Five plays later, Ben Roethlisberger connected on a fantastic catch by Diontae Johnson in the corner of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown and the Steelers saw their first lead of the season at 13-10.

With the Steelers defense digging in and not allowing a first down, Josh Allen was sacked by Cameron Heyward on third and six forcing what many expected to be another Buffalo punt. Although the kick left the foot of Matt Haack, it did not travel far before being blocked by Miles Killebrew and returned for a touchdown by Ulysees Gilbert III. Chris Boswell kicked the extra point with 9:45 left in the game and the Steelers held a 20-10 lead.

The Bills took another four minutes off the clock on the next drive which stalled inside the Steelers 10-yard line and they had to settle for a 25-yard field goal to cut the lead to one score at 20-13.

The Steelers responded by running two and a half minutes off the clock and tacking on a 45-yard field goal by Chris Boswell to push the lead back to 10 points. Taking the field with 2:42 remaining in the game, the Bills moved the ball into the red zone with just under a minute remaining. After a holding penalty pushed the Bills from the Steelers 14-yard line back to the 24, Buffalo chose to kick the field goal on first down in order to leave enough time for another score if they could be successful with an onside kick. With 0:46 left in the game, JuJu Smith-Schuster was able to recover the onside kick attempt and after two kneel downs the Steelers emerged from Buffalo with a 23-16 victory.


View highlights of the Week 1 victory over the Bills via the NFL YouTube channel HERE.

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


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 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

  • 81%
    Week 1 at Buffalo (23-16)
    (206 votes)
  • 18%
    Week 6 vs. Seattle (23-20 OT)
    (46 votes)
252 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

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


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