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The BTSC Delorean: Looking back at the full catalog of Steelers AFC Divisional Games, 2000s edition

BTSC goes back in time and through the entire catalog of Pittsburgh Steelers Divisional Playoff Games

Divisional Playoff - Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have only played 59 Postseason Games in in their history, and they all elicit memories in Steelers fans both good and bad. In those contests, the Steelers have played 26 divisional contest and are 16-10 in those games and six of those wins led to Super Bowl victories. BTSC takes a look back at the entire catalog of Steelers Divisional Games in Part 3 of a three-part series.

Here’s a brief tale of the tape of the 2000s (and beyond) Steelers in AFC Divisional Playoff Games:

Points: Steelers 240, Opponents 208

Home Points: 154, Opponents 117

Away Points: Steelers 86, Opponents 91

Record: 6-3

Home Record: 4-1

Road Record: 2-2

Shutouts: 0

Biggest Win Margin: 17 - Steelers 27, Ravens 10 (January 20, 2002)

Biggest Loss Margin: 7 - Broncos 23, Steelers 16 (January 17, 2016)

Closest Game: 2 - Steelers 18, Chiefs 16 (January 15, 2017)

Overtime Games: 2 - Titans 34, Steelers 31 (January 11, 2003), Steelers 20, Jets 17 (January 15, 2005)

January 20, 2002 - Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Baltimore Ravens 10 (2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

The Steelers 2001 season started off with Bill Cowher’s team getting absolutely lambasted in a 21-3 drubbing in Jacksonville. But with a bye and the 9/11 attacks, but they couldn’t do anything about it until their next game three weeks later. From there the Steelers found themselves a dominant diversion in the backdrop of nervous national landscape and division title was back in the Steel City after a 13-2 finish. However, one of those losses came at home against their fierce AFC Central rival, the Baltimore Ravens. The stakes were much higher when the Ravens were flying into the Burgh with a trip to the AFC Championship Game at stake in the first playoff game in history between the two franchises.

Steelers fans were much chagrined upon learning that an injury-plagued season for Jerome Bettis would continue as his planned return in the first-ever playoff game at Heinz Field was thwarted as a pain injection hit a nerve rendering the All-Pro on the sideline for another week. Luckily, the Steelers had Amos Zeroue in the Bus’ stead. On the opposing sideline, fortunes were actually worse as the numbness set in for Brian Billick and his visiting Baltimore Ravens from the very start. The unraveling of the Ravens commenced on merely the third play of the game when Chad Scott intercepted B-More quarterback Elvis Grbac on his very first pass attempt of the game and returned it 19 yards to the Ravens 43. The Steelers had a goal-to-go, but Jamie Sharper nailed Chris Fuamatu Ma’afala for a loss on the enemy 2 to force a 21-yard Kris Brown field goal and realize a 3–0 lead for Pittsburgh. The next time the birdies had the ball, Mike Jones sacked Grbac for a 10-yard loss on 3rd and 10. to open opportunities for the Pittsburgh offense. Kordell Stewart throws to Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward for gains of 17 and 20 respectively, set up an Amos Zereoue 2-yard touchdown run to make it 10–0 with 4:36 left in the first period of play.

In the second quarter, Baltimore cornerback Chris McAlister intercepted a pass from Stewart and returned it 18 yards to the Steelers 7-yard line, but Brent Alexander intercepted Grbac’s pass in the end zone for a touchback on the very next play. The Steelers took over and drove to the Ravens 9, but a Larry Webster sack of Stewart set the Steelers back 8 yards, and Brown’s chip shot attempt became a wide-left miss from 35 yards out. Another three-and-out for Baltimore and a Troy Edwards punt return set the stage for Zereoue’s second touchdown run. When Jason Gildon recovered a Terry Allen fumble from the following drive, the home team capitalized with another Brown field goal (43 yards) jumping their lead up to 20–0 with 4:23 left before the half. In an attempt to preserve some shred of dignity for his team, Grbac went to the air four times to Shannon Sharpe on a drive that included B-More finally moving the chains for their initial first down of the contest. Matt Stover chipped in with a 26-yard field goal with 1:06 to go, moving the deficit to 20–3 at halftime.

With an exchange of punts beginning the second half by both teams, the Steelers next series too ended in a Josh Miller punt, but it did not lead to a Baltimore possession for Jermaine Lewis returned it 88 yards to glory. Suddenly, the Ravens were back in the game with 7:18 remaining in the third and a score of 20-10. The Steelers did respond, though, to erase any trace of a comeback by putting together a back-breaking, 12-play drive for 83 yards that was finalized by Kordell’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico with 14:18 left before the game clock completely expired. The rest of the game was all punts and defense, as Brent Alexander picked-off Grbac and sacks by Joey Porter and Gildon sealed the deal.

The Steelers controlled the game on both sides of the ball, rushing for 150 yards and holding the ball for 40:15. The defense stifled the defending champion Ravens, limiting the offense to only 150 total yards, seven first downs, forcing four turnovers, and sacking Grbac on three instances. Bill Cowher’s team couldn’t keep the momentum and magic going the next week, as despite being 10-point favorites, fell to the Patriots and their camera crews to end their drive for five.

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 11, 2003 - Tennessee Titans 34, Pittsburgh Steelers 31 OT (2002 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

The 2002 season is one of those that evokes smiles from Steeler fans because they turned from an ‘01 AFC Championship Game favorite to a band of scrappy, pass-happy underdogs in an instant. In Week 3, Kordell Stewart gave way to Tommy Maddox and the veteran QB pulled out an epic comeback against Cleveland. Finishing 10-5-1, Pittsburgh hosted a home playoff game in snowy Heinz Field against rival Cleveland. Down 17 late in the third, the Steelers engineered an epic comeback to advance to Tennessee to battle the second-seeded Titans.

Fortunes started out rough for the visiting Steelers as Samari Rolle gave his team an early scoring opportunity by intercepting Tommy Maddox’s first pass of the game. Jeff Fisher’s Titans then drove 52 yards in seven plays to score on Steve McNair’s 8-yard scramble. Then following a Pittsburgh punt, Tennessee drove 76 yards in 16 plays to score on another scoring run, this time by Eddie George of the 1-yard variety and a 14-0 advantage at the tail-end of the first quarter. While the Titans owned the first stanza, the Steelers dominated the second. It started with the need to punt the pigskin away, but Lethon Flowers recovered a George fumble on the Titans 8-yard line, paving the way for Touchdown Tommy to take advantage with an 8-yard scoring pass to Hines Ward. Tennessee would then lose another turnover when McNair threw a pass that Chad Scott nabbed on the Steelers 41. On the next play, Maddox completed a 40-yard pass to Plaxico Burress, but a Jeff Reed 30-yard field goal was all that the visitors could get out of it. With 1:01 to play in the half, Samari Rolle, got called for a pass interference penalty on Steelers receiver Lee Mays and Hines Ward caught two balls and ran for 11 on a sweep to put Reed fin position to nail a 39-yard field goal on the last play of the half, making the score 14-13 going into the break.

On the first play of the second half, Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton forced a fumble from George that Aaron Smith recovered for Pittsburgh on the Titans 31. On the next play, the team took advantage and a 20–14 lead when Amos Zeroue burst free with a 31-yard touchdown run. But Tennessee broke out the no-huddle offense and raced back quickly to retake the lead on a McNair 7-yard touchdown toss to Frank Wycheck to go up 21-20. The dynamic McNair did it again after his defense forced a Steelers punt on their next drive. This time it was to another tight end, Erron Kinney, for 2-yard touchdown pass and an 8-point lead. A Jeff Reed missed field goal of 44-yards early in the fourth quarter made circumstances look dire for the visitors from Iron City, but the defense forced a Tennessee punt and what followed was Tommy Gun firing a 21-yard touchdown pass to Ward. Burress’ two-point conversion catch tied the game at 28. On the first play after the following kickoff, Deshea Townsend intercepted a pass from McNair on the Steelers 43, leading to a Reed 40-yard field goal that gave the team a 31–28 lead with 8;35 remaining. A long kickoff return of 38 yards by John Simon and a 20-yard grab by Drew Bennett were the catalysts for the Titans to tie the contest on another Nedney kick. The Steelers were afforded two more opportunities, but they both ended in Tom Rouen punts. The second of which gave McNair and Tennessee the chance to start from their own 20 with 1:43 remaining and get into field goal range for Nedney to win it with :08 remaining. The Steelers were on the ropes as the extension of their season came down to one kick. There was rejoicing from the visitor’s sideline, though, as the kick was no good.

In the overtime period, McNair threw relied on reserves as he hit Justin McCareins for gains of 31 and 22 yards before Robert Holcombe’s 3-yard run put the ball on the Steelers 16. They sent out Nedney to win the game, setting up chaos. Nedney’s first kick was good, but did not count as the Steelers had called timeout. Then Nedney’s next offering was wide right, . His kick was wide right, but Dewayne Washington was penalized for running into Nedney due to the exagerated flop worthy of an Academy Award persuaded the flag. Now the Titans were 5-yards closer and Nedney’s third try was true to end the contest at 34-31 in OT.

The Titans went on to lose in Oakland in the AFC Championship, while the Steelers went home with a bad taste in their mouths after such a sweet run in 2002. As for Joe Nedney, he instantly became a first-ballot inductee in the Steelers’ Hall of Villains.

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 15, 2005 - Pittsburgh Steelers 20, New York Jets 17 OT (2004 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

To begin the NFL’s 2004 campaign, the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves in a rebuild of sorts with a brand-new quarterback in the form of Miami of Ohio’s Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger waiting in the wings. When Tommy Maddox went down in Week 2, a magical season ensued, and Bill Cowher’s Steelers of 2004 rebuild became a complete reincarnation at 15-1.

Everything almost immediately went up in smoke in the divisional round of the playoffs with the underdog Jets rolling into town looking to shock the Heinz Field faithful. Despite the Steelers taking an early 10-0 lead courtesy of a Troy Polamalu interception that led to a short Bettis touchdown run and a Jeff Reed field goal, uneasiness set in when the Jets took a 17-10 lead in the fourth quarter with a 75-yard punt return by Santana Moss and an 86-yard interception for a score by Reggie Tongue. But the rookie Roethlisberger rallied the favorites and tied the contest on a shovel pass to Hines Ward with exactly 6:00 remaining on the Heinz Field clock. The Jets didn’t waver though and moved into field goal range right before the two-minute warning, only for Doug Brien to miss from 47 yards away. But those celebrating the entry into the AFC Championship threw up in their mouths as Roethlisberger was picked off by David Barrett on the very next play. Barrett returned the ball 25 yards, all the way to the Pittsburgh 37 with 1:58 remaining. But Pittsburgh again escaped the rabid teeth of defeat as Brien missed a 43-yarder as the regulation clock struck zero. In overtime, the Steelers buckled down and forced Chad Pennington and the J-E-T-S... Jets, Jets, Jets to stall at their own-41. After the punt and starting at their own 13, No. 7 drove the Steelers downfield by way of Duce Staley, Verron Haynes and Hines Ward. On 4th and 1, on the Jets 15, Bill Cowher trotted out Jeff Reed for a 33-yard field goal and a gut-wrenching 20-17 triumph in OT.

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 15, 2006 - Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Indianapolis Colts 18 (2005 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

The Steelers entered the 2005 postseason as the sixth seed and were traveling to Indiana after their upset win over rival Cincinnati the previous week. Joey Porter, whose mouth wrote many a check regardless of his account balance, turned heads when he guaranteed a win over the two TD favorite Colts, a 14-2 team that destroyed the Steelers in that very building seven weeks prior. It was a game in which Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James embarrassed Pittsburgh 26-7. The Colts coach and former Steeler Tony Dungy, a few weeks removed from a devastating personal tragedy that saw him lose his son a few weeks before, was coaching with a heavy heart. His Super Bowl favorites were undefeated until a mid-December upset against San Diego and their high-powered offense/solid defense made them favorites against the low seed that was Pittsburgh.

The day of the game, the Colts learned that DB Nick Harper had been stabbed with a steak knife by his wife in a domestic dispute the night before. The wound required three stitches, but it was wondered aloud if the incident would have any bearing on the game’s outcome. The Colts kicked off to start the game as the raucous home crowd did their best to have an effect on the Steelers. The noise was responsible for five offsides in the regular season contest. Starting from the 16, Ben Roethlisberger went long for a 38-yard connection with the rookie from Virginia, Heath Miller. Miller hauled in one for 18 more yards on the next play. Later-on in the drive on 3rd and 3 from the Indianapolis six, Rothlisberger threw a ball behind Antwaan Randle-El who made a good adjustment and captured the bullet for the touchdown. The play capped off a 10 play/84-yard drive. With 9:25 remaining in the first, Bill Cowher’s squad led 7-0.

After a rare occasion when Indy went three-and-out, Roethlisberger went back to the TE. This time it was Jerame Tuman for 19 yards to put Pittsburgh into Colt territory. But on the very next play, Ben stayed in the pocket way too long and paid for it when Dwight Freeney cracked him. The ball squirted ahead and was intercepted by Cato June at the Colt 35. But the Colts could only muster three yards and had to punt again. Roethlisberger rebounded well from his passing gaffe and led his Steelers down the RCA Dome track again. With a mix of runs by Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis and Dan Kreider and a long third-and-ten conversion by Hines Ward, the second year QB engineered a seven-play drive for 72 yards. The capper was a pass for seven yards to Heath Miller with 3:12 left in the first quarter of play. On the Colts third drive, the Steelers continued to harass Manning. Kimo von Oelhoffen had a huge sack to start the series. Manning finally completed a pass on his fifth attempt of the game for a first down to Marvin Harrison, but James Farrior sacked Manning for another huge loss, forcing 3rd and 24. Indy punted again.

There was very little scoring in the second quarter as the Colts defense came alive. But the Steelers D stayed impressive, forcing a third three-and-out on the fourth Indy offensive series. Then the Colts got a gift when Marlin Jackson was not called for interference on a blatant grab of Randle-El on what would have been a long gain, if not a score. The Steelers couldn’t convert. Then Peyton Manning came alive. On nearly a ten-minute drive that started on their own two, OC Tom Moore called a fine mix of Edgerrin James runs and Manning passes. The Colts thought James Mungro would score on a five-yard run, but a second offsides by Tarik Glenn nullified the Mungro TD. The Colts went from their own two to the Pittsburgh two but settled for a 19-yard Mike Vanderjagt field goal. At the half, it was 14-3 in favor of the visiting underdogs.

The third quarter started with a punt by the blue-clad homers, followed by one by the visitors in white. The third possession of the new half could have been devastating for the boys repping Circle City. What appeared to be a Farrior safety of Manning on third down was just shy of the end zone. The Colts got a punt off instead, but Pittsburgh got excellent field position, and started at the Indianapolis 30. After Bettis drained the third quarter clock, No. 36 finished off the Steelers drive with a 1-yard plunge to paydirt. After Jeff Reed’s conversion, it was 21-3 with 1:26 remaining in the third. Seconds before the quarter ended, Manning waved off Dungy’s punt decision and went for it from his own 36 and made it. The decision paid off a few moments later when No. 18 connected with Dallas Clark for a 50-yard score with 14:09 remaining. It was now 21-10 Steelers with a quarter to play.

In the fourth, the Steelers had a stretch of 11-straight running plays that included a Ben Roethlisberger sneak on 4th and 1 at midfield. Cowher’s gamble worked as the Steelers got a good spot and extended the drive. Bettis converted another 4th and 1, but the drive ended in a Chris Gardocki punt with 6:07 remaining in the contest. This is where it gets a little crazy. With 5:26 remaining in the contest, Peyton Manning threw what appeared to be a sure interception gabbed by Troy Polamalu. No. 43 caught the ball, rolled over on the ground while making a football move, dropped the ball and recovered it at midfield. That should have been the nail in Indianapolis’ coffin. Dungy challenged the call and the crowd erupted when the ref, Pete Morelli, announced the overturning of the call on the field as an incomplete pass. Dick Enberg and Dan Dierdorf, calling the game for CBS, expressed shock. Steeler Nation was stunned and enraged. With a second chance, Manning took advantage of the gift. Four plays later, James plunged in from the three and when Reggie Wayne (backed up by a false start penalty) made a seven yard catch for the 2PC, the score was only 21-18 with 4:24 left.

The Steelers couldn’t answer back, so Indy took over at their own 18 with 2:32 remaining and a chance to win or tie. But the Steeler defense, who had been flummoxing Manning and his o-line all game, answered the bell and looked to put the game away. On 2nd and 8, Joey Porter sacked No. 18 for a six-yard loss. Then on 4th and 16, Porter and Farrior sacked Manning to stop the Colts seemingly for good. Tunch Ilkin on the radio broadcast urged fans to get their reservations for Denver. The Steelers took over on downs and looked to ice the game when their version of a football closer came in with the ball at the two. That was No. 36. Everybody knows about the wall that was Gary Brackett that Bettis hit and the uncharacteristic and crazy fumble that occurred. When Nick Harper scooped up the ball and raced down the field, the collective jaws of Steeler Nation dropped. One man had a heart attack while watching at a bar. I don’t know whether it was the stabbing from the night before or the knee injury from early on or divine intervention...but something slowed down Harper enough for Big Ben to make the most important of tackles in Steeler history. With the jumbo package in the game to block, fast guys weren’t on the field to catch Harper. But Ben made the twisting ankle-tackle to save the TD. Meanwhile. Tunch recanted his reservation proclamation.

After that, the Colts still had a chance at their own 43 with 1:09 left. Manning immediately found Reggie Wayne for 21 yards to the Steeler 36 and the sure-footed All Pro, Mike Vanderjagt, warmed up to kick. Harrison got eight more to the 28, while Bettis nervously knelt on the sideline and Tommy Maddox consoled the legend. On the next play, Manning went for the win on a long pass to Wayne, but rookie CB Bryant McFadden had amazing coverage and broke it up. At 3rd and 2, Manning went back to Wayne and McFadden almost intercepted. This was a huge mistake. The Colts could have gotten closer for their kicker, but it would be a try from 46 to tie. Bill Cowher iced Vanderjagt (the game’s most-accurate all-time kicker at that time) and the WVU product pointed with a mocking gesture to the Steeler coach, as to imply, “How dare you ice me!” With :21 remaining, Bettis paced and Steeler fans painfully waited for the inevitable trip to OT, where the Steelers would surely lose. However, the cocky kicker had an ugly kick that was never close and sailed wide right. Vanderjagt slammed his helmet to the turf, as Bettis raised his in relief and delight. The Steelers celebrated, Tunch invited fans to Denver and Manning threw his line under the bus in the presser. It was a monumental and improbable victory for this particular team of destiny.

It was believed that the only way the Steelers could win would be via a punishing ground game, but the Steelers stormed in throwing and set the tone early. On the defensive side, Pittsburgh set out to harass Manning and never let up. it was a game plan well-executed and well-planned. In the end, lady luck contributed as well. And she led the Men of Steel all the way to their first Super Bowl title in 26 seasons, just a few weeks later.

AFC Divisional Playoffs: Pittsburgh Steelers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

To watch the highlights of this game, click HERE

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 11, 2009 - Pittsburgh Steelers 34, San Diego Chargers 21 (2008 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

In his second season at the helm of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin’s Men of Steel entered the season as defending champions of the AFC North. Despite facing the most difficult NFL schedule in over 30 years, the black and gold managed to achieve a 12–4 record, and a second-straight division title. With linebacker James Harrison awarded the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year after leading a defense that set the standard for the league in nearly every defensive category, the Steelers had the players to get back to the Super Bowl, but they couldn’t overlook a playoff foe that they’ve never been able to vanquish in the postseason.

The Steelers and their Heinz Field faithful were expecting a fight from the visiting San Diego Chargers, but they didn’t fully prepare for the electricity and excitement to be sucked out of the venue just two minutes into the game when Philip Rivers launched a 48-yard touchdown pass into the waiting arms of Vincent Jackson. A response came from the Steelers after their punishing defense forced a Mike Scifres’ punt which when Santonio Holmes returned 65 yards for a touchdown to tie the game with 7:41 to go in the first. Late in the second quarter, Pittsburgh was in a trickery state of mind and attempted to fool the Chargers with a fake punt with a direct snap to the up-man Ryan Clark. It didnt work though as Antwan Applewhite stopped Ryan for a 4-yard loss in Steelers’ territory at the 44-yard line. Nate Kaeding’s 42-yard field goal gave San Diego the lead again at 10–7 just after the two-minute warning. But a determined Big Ben woke up his team and executed a two-minute drill expertly with 54 yards worth of completions to Hines Ward putting Willie Parker in position for a 3-yard touchdown and a 14-10 halftime lead.

Thorough Blitzburgh domination was the story of the third quarter after the Steelers started the second half with a 77-yard drive completed by Roethlisberger’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller. They did have one gaffe on special teams though, a 63-yard return by Darren Sproles on the ensuing kickoff. But that was a mere footnote as an interception by Larry Foote put an end to that momentum. The pickoff was the only offensive play for the visiting Bolts in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, San Diego only had a flaw here and there. A goal line stand put a stop to another chance at the end zone when Brandon Siler and Tim Dobbins stopped Carey Davis for no gain on 4th and 1 on the Chargers 1-yard line. But a couple of incompletions and a 10-yard sack by LaMarr Woodley a punt from their own 2. The Steelers got back to the doorstep, and this time the black and gold didn’t waste it as Gary Russell scored on 1-yard plunge on the next play, moving Pittsburgh’s lead to 28–10. A trade-off of touchdowns, one by Legedu Naanee on a 4-yard pass from Rivers, and another which was a Willie Parker sweep on the right end for 16. When Rivers combined with Darren Sproles on a 62-yard pass play to make the score 35-24, only 2:03 remained on the game clock and the Steelers started the kneel downs to end the contest.

With Willie Parker leading the way with 147 rushing yards and two touchdowns, the Steelers dominated time of possession holding the ball for 36 minutes and defense behind two sacks by LaMarr Woodley and one each from James Harrison and Brett Keisel kept San Diego in check. The Pittsburgh Steelers had finally defeated the visitors from the West Coast in their third postseason meeting and this one moved them closer to their second Lombardi in four seasons.

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 15, 2011 - Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Baltimore Ravens 24 (2010 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

As it always seems to be more often than not, it’s the Steelers and Ravens battling, not only for division supremacy, but for the conference crown. With Pittsburgh winning the division over an equally 12-4 Baltimore club, the only advantage was essentially the venue, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Steelers knew that they had to get past their fevered rivals to get to a third AFC Title Game in six seasons. Mike Tomlin’s team also knew that it wasn’t going to be easy.

John Harbaugh’s Ravens opened up with possession of the football, but the tenacious Steelers defense stopped the visitors cold and forced a punt. Ben Roethlisberger stepped in and upped the ante, driving 80 yards and then handed the ball off to Rashard Mendenhall for a 1-yard touchdown run. The drive was aided by a 37-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Josh Wilson. The Ravens struck back, and like the Steelers on the series before, got an assist on a 33-yard pass interference penalty committed by Anthony Madison. Ray Rice’s 14-yard touchdown run tied the game. It got worse for the home team when two plays into the next drive, Ben was belted by Terrell Suggs (5 tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble) as he pulled his arm back to throw and lost the football. Here’s where it got crazy, even though the whistle wasn’t blown, most of the players on both teams thought it was an incomplete pass since the ball went forward and headed back to their huddles, but Cory Redding had the presence of mind to pick up the ball and return it 13 yards for a touchdown to the shock and awe of everybody in the stadium with black-and-gold interests.

In the second quarter, the Steelers remained imperfect as Mendy fumbled and Ed Reed seized the ball and possession at the Steelers 16-yard line, setting up Flacco’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Todd Heap. Baltimore was flying high with a 21–7 lead with 5:46 left before intermission. The Steelers offense responded with a drive to the Baltimore 25-yard line but came up empty when Shaun Suisham couldn’t successfully convert a 43-yard field goal attempt with :25 left in the half. At 21-7, Baltimore fans were talking openly about getting plane tickets to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.

What a difference a half makes as the Steelers dominated the third quarter, forcing three turnovers and holding the Ravens to negative yardage. Then Ray Rice lost a fumble while being tackled by Ryan Clark with LaMarr Woodley recovering the ball on the Baltimore 23. After a 14-yard run by Mendenhall, Roethlisberger inched his Steelers a touchdown closer when he threw a 9-yard touchdown pass that was caught by Heath Miller. Punts were exchanged by both teams and then Clark intercepted a pass from Flacco and returned it 17 yards to the Ravens 25-yard line. BTR came in and slung a pass to Mendenhall for a gain of 13, and on third down the Steelers QB tied things up with a scoring play of the 8-yard variety down to Hines Ward to direct the scoreboard operator to place 21’s on both sides. Momentum stayed with the Steelers just two plays after the kickoff, Flacco fumbled a snap and Da Beard Brett Keisel recovered it at the Baltimore 23. But a Suggs sack of No. 7 forced the Steelers to forgo a touchdown and settle for a Suisham 35-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh their first lead with 12:15 left in regulation at 24-21.

It appeared that the Ravens had retaken the lead when Lardarius Webb returned a punt 55 yards for a touchdown, only to have it called back by a holding penalty on Marcus Smith. Still, John Harbaugh’s ratbirds were stationed at the enemy 29-yard line. Instantly, Flacco completed for 21 to Heap. But over the next three plays, the run defense hunkered down and then Anquan Boldin dropped a pass in the end zone, forcing them to settle for Billy Cundiff’s field goal to tie the score at 24-24 with 3:54 left in regulation.

After starting out throwing two incompletions, Roethlisberger threw a 12-yard pass to Ward on third and ten but was sacked for a 9-yard loss by Redding and Paul Kruger and threw another incompletion, bringing up third down and 19 with 2:07 to go. Then Big Ben seized the day and forecasted the future by launching a 58-yard bomb to a rookie AB at the 4-yard line that Brown caught by trapping it against his helmet. After a defensive holding penalty moved the ball to the 1, the Ravens defense kept Mendenhall out of the end zone for two more plays. But on third down, he scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Steelers a 31–24 lead with 1:33 remaining in regulation.

There was a problem, however, as Chris Kemoeatu was called for unnecessary roughness on the touchdown to set the Steelers back on the kickoff. Le’Ron McClain returned Suisham’s squibber to the Steelers 48 to give B-More a chance to drive for the tying touchdown with 1:27 remaining. But their offense was unable to move the ball. After a near interception by William Gay and an 8-yard sack by Ziggy Hood, receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh dropped a potential first down catch, ending any chance of a comeback.

With the comeback win, the Steelers went on to defeat the New York Jets in the AFC Championship before losing to Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV. But on this day, the Steelers proved resilience against their great foe and cemented Steelers vs. Ravens as one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

FBN-RAVENS-STEELERS Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

To watch the highlights of this game, click HERE

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 17, 2016 - Denver Broncos 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 16 (2015 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

The 2015 season was not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they had a lot of obstacles to go through, mostly injuries to key offensive players like Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell, just to make it to the postseason. At 10-6, the Men of Steel had to resort to getting help from the Buffalo Bills to beat the New York Jets, and then make a run through the jungle in Cincinnati that ended in bizarre circumstances, further depleted their team of the superstar known as AB and weakened their quarterback to barely 50% of shoulder strength. All of this would make the Steelers serious underdogs as they traveled to the Rocky Mountains to face Peyton Manning and a swarming defense complete with a secondary known as the ‘‘No Fly Zone”. Before the game, Head Coach Mike Tomlin talked about Brown being a “Batman” and the team’s need for “Robins” to emerge.

12-4 Denver, taking advantage of good special teams’ play and field position found themselves in a defensive battle early on and were not able to get into the end zone despite decent opportunities. They were able to manage two Brandon McManus field goals (28, 41) for a 6–0 lead with 3:40 remaining in the first quarter of play at Invesco Field at Mile High. Pittsburgh took the ball back and stormed 80 yards in just five plays. Without Antonio Brown, Deangelo Williams and Bell, an injured Roethlisberger wanted to announce his presence with authority and said authority was Martavis Bryant. Big No. 10 caught a 23-yard pass from Ben and then took a handoff on a reverse and raced 40 yards to the Broncos 16. After Fitzgerald Toussaint carried the mail for 15 yards to the 1, the replacement back chipped in from there and gave Pittsburgh a 7–6 lead going into the second quarter.

The Steelers got another big play on their next possession, as Roethlisberger’s 58-yard completion to Darrius Heyward-Bey set up Boswell from 38-yards away to increase their lead to 10-6. With 3:12 to go before halftime, Jordan Berry pinned Payton Manning and the Broncos at their-own 5. It looked bleak for the blue and orange, but C.J. Anderson reeled off a sprint of 34 yards and gave McManus enough room for a 51-yard field goal as time in the first half expired with the score Steelers 10, Broncos 9.

After forcing Denver to punt of the first drive of the second half, Pittsburgh put together a 69-yard scoring drive featuring a 58-yard reception by Bryant. Boswell finished it with a 28-yard field goal, increasing the Steelers lead to 13–9. Denver had to punt again on their next drive, but Dustin Colquitt’s 51-yard punt pinned the Steelers deep on their own 6-yard line. Pittsburgh could not get a first down, and Berry’s punt gave the ball back to Denver right around midfield. The Broncos were only able to move the ball enough for another McManus field goal. The 41-yarder trimmed the Denver deficit to 13–12 with 2:45 left in the third. Pittsburgh took the ball back and drove to the Broncos 34-yard line but were halted there and decided to punt instead of trying a long field goal. After a controversy in which Manning gave himself up for a sack and got up to complete a pass, the Steelers made the stop, but field position was worse off after the subsequent Denver punt, as the Steelers found themselves again at the Denver 34. That yard line proved to be a wasteland once again as Bradley Roby forced the first turnover of the game when he nailed Toussaint and the fumble that incurred was recovered by DeMarcus Ware.

Now with 9:52 left in the game, the ageless Peyton Manning made Pittsburgh pay with a 13-play drive for the go-ahead score when he handed off to Anderson who converted a 3rd and goal into a 1-yard touchdown blast. Then Manning-to-Demaryius Thomas for a 2-point conversion gave the Broncos a 20–13 lead with exactly 3:00 left on the clock. Pittsburgh had a chance to counter but they were just too depleted, and Ware sacked Big Ben for a 13-yard loss on 4th and 5. A McManus 45-yard field goal gave the home team a 23–13 lead with :53 seconds to go and Bowell matched it quickly to get within one score with a 47-yard field goal that was aided by a PI on T.J. Ward. At 23-16, the AFC Championship entry rode on an onsides kick attempt by Boz. The Steelers hadn’t successfully used this maneuver since Week 17 of 2007, and the drought continued as the men in orange crushed out the hopes of the visitors. Despite all of the barriers and difficulties, the Steelers played admirably as Roethlisberger finished the game 24 of 37 for 339 yards, a Batman in Martavis hauled-in nine passes for 154 yards and had two carries for 40 to fall just short of 200 total, and the man they call Deebo, James Harrison, had seven tackles and a sack. The Broncos went on to win Super Bowl 50, while the Steelers limped home in search of health and plenty of Robins to convert into the ultimate caped crusader.

Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

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January 15, 2017 - Pittsburgh Steelers 18, Kansas City Chiefs 16 (2016 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

The Steelers 2016 season appeared to be doomed when the black and gold fell to Dallas in Week 9 to go 4-5 and the loss of Cam Heyward to injury. However, the Steelers reeled off eight-straight wins, including a 30-12 shellacking of the Dolphins in the Wild Card. With a road contest in the divisional round against the 12-4 Chiefs on the horizon, the black and gold were headed into a raucous environment with a trip to the AFC Championship Game on the line. The game was slated to have started at 1:05 PM, but was pushed back to 8:20 due to a snowstorm that ravaged the Midwest. It was just another obstacle for Mike Tomlin’s team to overcome.

The Steelers stormed out of the barn early with Ben Roethlisberger spreading the ball around to Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Jesse James and Eli Rogers. When the drive stalled on Kansas City’s 4, the men from the Iron City claimed points on a 22-yard field goal from the foot of Chris Boswell. But Alex Smith’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Albert Wilson on the very next possession was a trumping counter to give the Arrowhead inhabitants a 7–3 lead. Looking to get his team in the end zone as well, Roethlisberger hit AB on a 52-yard completion, but it only netted another Boswell field goal that made the score 7–6. After forcing a KC punt, the Steel City Traveling Field Goal Festival continued as the black and gold went 53 yards in 14 plays but could only muster a third Boswell field goal. The 36-yarder helped the Steelers retake the lead at 9–7 lead with 9:18 remaining before the half. The Steelers looked to have another chance to score when Ryan Shazier intercepted a Smith pass on the Chiefs’ 44-yard line, but Ben gave it right back when he was picked off by Eric Berry in the end zone. Kansas City ended up punting after three plays and Brown returned it 6 yards to the Chiefs’ Another punt and another Boswell field goal (this one from 45 yards out) changed the scoreboard to read 12–7 and it could have been more when rookie cornerback Artie Burns recovered a fumble from Charcandrick West on the Chiefs’ 40. But a Roethlisberger then completion of 29 yards to Brown got the Steelers to the 11, with no time to add to their tally as the clock expired.

Bell carried the ball five times for 49 yards, including a 38-yard dash on the first play out of the locker room, but again Todd Haley’s offense was kept out of the end zone. Luckily Chris Boswell was on fire and the kicker muscled a 43-yard field goal that put the visitors up 15–7. A Cairo Santos 48-yard field goal ushered the third quarter to close with the score at 15-10. Undeterred and not feeling any pressure, BB7 employed James and Rogers into position for Boswell to kick a sixth field goal of the game. True from 43, the touchdown-starved Steelers saw the scoreboard tell a story in which they enjoyed an 18–10 lead. With the Chiefs not giving up, Smith went to his full supply of weapons by hitting Kelce for a 24, handing off to Spencer Ware for 11, back to Kelce after a 15-yard infraction, a 12-yard completion to Chris Conley on 4th and 8. a 3-yarder to fullback Anthony Sherman on another 4th down play and 1-yard touchdown run by Ware to inch within a conversion of a tie at 18–16 with 2:47 left in regulation. It looked like the Chiefs would do just that as Smith hooked up with Demetrius Harris on a two-point conversion play. However, it was all for naught as a holding penalty on Eric Fisher, who was trying to hold of a blitzing James Harrison, negated the two points. The second attempt to Jeremy Maclin fell incomplete. From there, Roethlisberger managed a first down and the Steelers ran out the clock and ended the season for Andy Reid and his Chiefs.

Despite not getting into the end zone, the Killer Bs had a grand day as Roethlisberger completed 20-for-31 passes for 221 yards and an interception, AB caught six passes for 108 yards and Boswell had six field goals to account for all of the scoring. The B with the biggest stinger of the day appeared to be Bell, who rushed for 170 yards, giving him the highest total of combined rushing yards (337) by any running back in history over his first two playoff games. The Steelers lost the following week in New England as their Super Bowl dreams would die, but the downfall began in the winner’s locker room as Antonio Brown’s infamous Facebook Live video exposing Tomlin’s comments on the Patriots was broadcast to the entire football world.

Divisional Round - Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

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January 14, 2018 - Jaguars 45, Steelers 42 (2017 AFC Divisional Playoff Game)

After falling short in 2016 in the AFC Championship Game against New England, 2017 looked like it could be the year that Mike Tomlin’s Men of Steel put it all together and finally got themselves back to hoisting the sticky Lombardi. However, the team could not recover from the devastating paralysis of star linebacker Ryan Shazier on December 4th in Cincinnati and the loss to New England in the “Jesse James Caught That Ball Game” that greatly altered the playoff seedings for the 13-3 Steelers. Instead, Pittsburgh welcomed the No. 3 seeded Jacksonville Jaguars into Heinz Field. Coming in with the hot hand, the 10-6 Jags of Doug Marrone proved that they were more than just another lamb offred up for the slaughter.

Still reeling from the loss of Shazier, the Steelers defense couldn’t stop the bleeding of a typically anemic Blake Bortles and the black-and-gold offense kept giving the visitors opportunity over and over. Following a Leonard Fournette touchdown plunge to open the scoring after the kickoff, a Myles Jack side-line interception set up Fournette’s immediate, 18-yard score for a two-touchdown advantage. Todd Haley’s offense got desperate too early late in the first quarter and Le’Veon Bell was devoured for a loss on a 4th and 1 on the Jacksonville 21 to turn the ball back over, in which they immediately marched 75-yards down the field for a T.J. Yeldon run and a 21-0 lead. But the Steelers weren’t about to give up, Ben Roethlisberger rode Lev Bell and Eli Rogers on a drive that ended in a 23-yard score to Antonio Brown. After forcing a punt, the Steelers momentum was crushed when Yannick Ngakoue sacked Roethlisberger and Telvin Smith scooped up the loose ball to take it all the way home for the touchdown. Still fighting, Ben linked-up with Martavis Bryant right before the intermission for 36 yards to cut the score to 28-14 on a 4th and 11 with :25 left.

A beauty of a lob pass to Bell from Ben for a score came after the second-half kickoff, but another turnover on downs at the enemy 39 hurt the Steelers. Jacksonville seized the opportunity with a bomb to Keelan Cole setting up a second Fournette TD and started a flurry of scoring by both teams until the game’s conclusion. Next came a 43-yard pass to AB from Ben on fourth down, countered by a Bortles TD to Tommy Bohanon, followed by a Le’veon Bell scoring run with 2:18 left to make the score 42-35. But the decision to go with an onsides kick failed miserably and Jacksonville, held to a three-and-out, kicked a field goal to go ahead by 10. The Steelers would reach the end zone again with a JuJu Smith-Schuster 4-yard grab with a second left, but the game and the opportunity to extend their season ended mercilessly and in utter disappointment. Ben threw for 469 yards and set a franchise record with five touchdown passes, but his turnovers scarred the effort. Antonio Brown (132 yards and two touchdowns) and Le’Veon Bell (155 yards of total offense and two scores) were also huge, but individual pay was not enough to thwart the team effort from the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.

Divisional Round - Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

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