clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The BTSC Delorean: The complete catalog of Steelers AFC Championship Games, 2000 and beyond edition

Take a trip back in time with BTSC with the complete catalog of Steelers AFC Championship Games from the 2000s and beyond.

2011 AFC Championship: New York Jets v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have played in 63 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 in 16 AFC Championship Games and are .500 in those games with a record of 8-8 with six of those leading to Super Bowl victories. BTSC takes a look back at the entire catalog of Steelers AFC Championship Games in Part 3 of a three-part series.

Here’s a brief tale of the tape of the Steelers history in AFC Championship Games:

Record: 8-8

Home Record: 6-5

Road Record: 2-3

Points: Steelers 349, Opponents 339

Home Points: Steelers 239, Opponents 204

Away Points: Steelers 110, Opponents 135

Shutouts: 0

Biggest Win Margin: 29 - Steelers 34, Oilers 5 (January 7, 1979)

Biggest Loss Margin: 19 - Patriots 36, Steelers 17 (January 22, 2017)

Closest Game: 3 - Denver Broncos 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21 (January 11, 1998)

Overtime Games: None

Here’s a brief tale of the tape of the Steelers history in AFC Championship Games in the 2000s and beyond:

Record: 3-3

Home Record: 2-2

Road Record: 1-1

Points: Pittsburgh Steelers 142, Opponents 151

Home Points: Pittsburgh Steelers 91, Opponents 98

Away Points: Pittsburgh Steelers 51, Opponents 53

Shutouts: 0

Biggest Win Margin: 17 - Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Denver Broncos 17 (January 22, 2006)

Biggest Loss Margin: 19 - Patriots 36, Steelers 17 (January 22, 2017)

Closest Game: 5- Pittsburgh Steelers 24, New York Jets 19 (January 23, 2011)

Overtime Games: None

January 27, 2002 - New England Patriots 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 17 (2001 AFC Championship Game)

The Steelers finished a strange 2001 regular season at 13-3 and, after a thorough beating of Baltimore in the AFC Championship Game, were home at Heinz Field as the No. 1 seed and a heavy favorite against visiting New England. Little did they know, as the Spygate investigation would later inform us, how ready and how for real Bill Belichick’s Patriots actually were.

Defense ruled early, as Aaron Smith sacked Tom Brady on the first drive to force a punt and the Patriots defense seemed ready for everything Kordell Stewart and his offense tried to throw out there. It was special teams that proved to be even more of an issue the Men of Steel, starting with Troy Brown’s 55-yard punt return for a touchdown with 3:55 left in the first. This was originally a key play in the game because it should have been Kris Brown would close the gap after the Steelers stalled on the enemy 11 minutes into the second quarter to make the score 7-3. But that was it for Pittsburgh in the opening half as the Patriots’ The visitors weren’t done though, even though their starting quarterback was. Losing Tom Brady to a lower-body injury from getting hit by Lee Flowers didn’t hurt the Patriots too much, as Drew Bledsoe came in and found David Patten in the corner of the end zone right before the half for an 11-yard score and a 14-3 advantage. But with 1:05 remaining, Stewart went on the offensive and desperately attempted to lead the Steelers to any kind of score, but his Hail Mary heave to Bobby Shaw wound up in Terrell Buckley’s grasp and both teams retreated to their respective locker rooms for a break.

After a Sheryl Crow performance of “Soak Up the Sun” during intermission, Bill Cowher’s Steelers came out for the second half and remained under dark clouds of their own doing. Kordell mishandled a snap at his own 35 and Teddy Bruschi was there for the recovery. The Steelers caught a break, though, as the defense rose up and forced a turnover on downs limiting the Patriots to only two yards on their next four plays. Rejuvenated and looking to strike, Pittsburgh drove 52 yards to the 16-yard line but could go no further. Brown trotted on for his second field goal attempt, but this time his kick was blocked by Brandon Mitchell and Brown recovered the ball. and returned it 11 yards before tossing a lateral to Antwan Harris, who took the ball the remaining 45 yards for a touchdown. Fortunes looked absolutely bleak for the home team as New England’s lead was extended to 21–3.

The Steelers wouldn’t go down without a fight though. Stewart struck back by completing passes for big gains to Hines Ward and Amos Zereoue. When Jerome Bettis capped matters off with a 1-yard touchdown run, the score was a tad more acceptable at 21–10 with 5:11 left in the third quarter. New England was forced to punt after a possessed Jason Gildon sacked Bledsoe on third down. Edwards returned said punt 28 yards to the Patriots 32-yard line and, five plays later, Zereoue scored with an 11-yard touchdown run to change the scoreboard to read 21–17 with 1:33 remaining in the third. Early in the fourth quarter, Adam Vinatieri’s 44-yard field goal would increase New England’s lead to 24–17. and then the Patriots defense would made big stops when Tebucky Jones intercepted Slash and returned it 19 yards to the Steelers 34. It didn’t equate to points though, as the Big Nasty Steel City D did not allow a first down and the great-great grandson of Felix Vinatieri, General George Custer’s bandmaster, missed a 50-yard field goal attempt that would have ended the contest. With the ball back on their own 40, the Steelers one last chance. They went ahead and squandered said chance two plays later when Lawyer Milloy intercepted Stewart’s third pass to the wrong-colored jersey with 2:02 left to make the win official.

Both the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers had storybook seasons. The visiting Patriots still had another chapter to go in New Orleans with a win that inspired a long anthology of Super Bowl tales, while the feel-good 2001 season for the Steelers ended as a bad read akin to a Shakespearean tragedy or something like that.

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 23, 2005 - New England Patriots 41, Pittsburgh Steelers 27 (2004 AFC Championship Game)

The 2004 season for the Steelers was quite magical as the Steelers finally found a franchise quarterback in the 11th overall selection in the NFL Draft. When the rookie QB known as Big Ben won a record 14-straight in the regular season without a loss, including a Halloween toilet-papering of the New England Patriots, Bill Cowher’s rebuild became a complete reincarnation at 15-1. When the Steelers barely escaped the New York Jets in the divisional round in overtime, Heinz Field became the venue to host a rematch of the Steelers’ Halloween conquering of New England. This time, however, a trip to the Super Bowl for the heroes in hypocycloids for the first time in 15 years. But the Steelers weren’t just battling Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, a frigid temperature of 11 °F was going to add to the list of foes to overcome.

The Steelers were doomed early and never recovered from an incredibly awful performance in the first quarter of this game. On the third play of the night, Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass went high and ricocheted off of Antwaan Randle-El’s grabbers and into the waiting arms of Eugene Wilson near midfield. Tom Brady and company got enough yardage to capitalize with an Adam Vinatieri field goal to take a 3–0 lead. Pittsburgh would respond and move into Patriots’ territory with positive plays by Plaxico Burress, Verron Haynes and Jerome Bettis but remember that the first quarter was a debacle. Therefore, Roosevelt Colvin knocked the ball loose and out of Bettis’ grasp for former Steeler Mike Vrabel to recover. Right away, Brady made the all of Steeltown pay by launching a 60-yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch. The score was 10-0 with 6:58 to go in the first. The Men of Steel would finally get points on the scoreboard when former Pittsburgh punter Josh Miller got off only a 27-yard punt and the next drive started near midfield at the 48. But all they could get out of it was Jeff Reed’s 43-yard field goal with 1:26 left in the first quarter. and the score 14-3. After an exchange of punts, the Patriots went in for the kill. Brady went deep to Branch caught a 45-yard reception on Pittsburgh’s 14 and two plays later, the legendary QB tossed a 9-yard scoring ball to David Givens. The Steelers’ ensuing drive was meant to be redemption and a chance to get back into the game before intermission, and with runs by Duce Staley and completions to Ward and Jerame Tuman, Ben had the Steelers in position to do so by advancing to the New England 23, but Rodney Harrison thieved a pass from Roethlisberger and returned it 87 yards for a backbreaking touchdown with 2:14 to go before the break and a 24–3 halftime lead for the visitors.

Three consecutive touchdowns were on the menu to start the second half. It started when the Steel City defense forced a punt on the opening drive w/ Antwaan Randle El returning said punt to the Steelers 44 and leading the cause with two receptions for 46 yards to set up Bettis to complete the drive with a 5-yard scoring blast. The score was now 24–10, but it wouldn’t last long as Corey Dillon’s 25-yard touchdown run, Roethlisberger’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Ward, a Miller punt for New England and Reed’s second field goal of the night made the score 31–20 with 13:32 left in the game. But the Patriots had enough and slammed the door on the trailing hosts by responding with a 49-yard drive that drained a crucial 5:26 off of the clock and ended with Vinatieri’s 31-yard field goal and a 34-20 advantage with 8:06 to go. Still within two scores and plenty of time remaining, the rookie BTR (Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger) was poised to score and get within 7, but Eugene Wilson intercepted another pass from No. 7 and Brady ended it by draining precious time and marching down the field. But it was Branch that put the final nail in the black-and-gold coffin with a 23-yard glory run on a reverse play. Trailing 41–20, the Heinz Field Heroes made a futile attempt, but at this point Roethlisberger’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Burress was merely a garbage time score with only 1:31 left in the game. The Pats Christian Fauria covered the onside kick and the New England Patriots crushed Steel City Super Bowl dreams once again by the score of 41-27.

The loss became the first as a starter for Ben Roethlisberger (14/24 for 226 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTs) in a record-breaking rookie campaign, but he wasn’t ready for Belichick’s Super Bowl stalwarts that would go on to win their third Lombardi in four seasons. The main factor of success for New England was the ability to convert four Pittsburgh turnovers into 24 points, while playing clean themselves. To make matters worse for Pennsylvania fans, the loss denied an all-Keystone State Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles.

After the game, a tearful Hines Ward expressed regret for not getting Jerome Bettis that elusive trip to the big game, and Ben promised the Bus to get him there, should he return in 2005. The Steelers did just that, as this game proved to be merely a growing pain for the rookie QB who, with Ward, Bettis and a host of others, helped lead the Steelers to lifting their first sticky Lombardi a year later.

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 22, 2006 - Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Denver Broncos 17 (2005 AFC Championship Game)

For the first time since 1984, the Steelers played on the road in the AFC Championship Game, but it hardly mattered as they forced four turnovers and went into halftime with a 24–3 lead on route to advancing to their sixth Super Bowl appearance in team history. In doing so, Pittsburgh became the first #6 playoff seed (since the league expanded to a 12-team playoff format in 1990) to advance to the Super Bowl. Second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, already in his fifth career playoff game, completed 21 of 29 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns (one each to Cedrick Wilson and Hines Ward) and ran for a third. Steelers running back Jerome Bettis rushed for the other touchdown.

The upset of Indianapolis the week before turned in by sixth-seeded Pittsburgh made Invesco Field at Mile High the home venue for the AFC Championship Game after the Broncos took advantage of four Patriot turnovers in the divisional round.

Winners of the coin toss, the navy blue and orange found themselves in enemy territory immediately. It was the swarming defense of Dick LeBeau that contained Peyton Manning and the Colts’ juggernaut offense the week before that clamped down to force a punt. Pittsburgh’s momentum from the shocker in Indy resumed on their opening drive as Ben Roethlisberger spread the ball around to Willie Parker, Nate Washington, Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El in a 12-play drive that resulted in a Jeff Reed field goal of 47 yards. On the next series, that defense clamped down when Joey Porter saluted the crowd after sacking Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, who lost a fumble that Casey Hampton recovered at the Denver 39-yard line. Roethlisberger took advantage right away by locating Cedrick Wilson for a 12-yard scoring collaboration for a 10–0 scoreboard display on the first play of the second quarter. The Broncos responded by driving 55 yards and scoring with a field goal from Jason Elam, but the visitors from the Steel City stormed right back with a 14-play drive and scored on Jerome Bettis’ 3-yard touchdown run to take a 17–3 lead with 1:55 left in the half. Steeler Nation was celebrating the possible 14-point lead, but that wasn’t enough for Bill Cowher’s team as Ike Taylor intercepted a pass from Plummer on the Broncos 39-yard line. Four plays later, Bettis powered through with a 12-yard touchdown run, but it was called back because of an illegal-formation penalty on Ward. However, the Steelers leading receiver made up for the transgression by hooking up with Ben on a touchdown pass on the very next play, giving the Steelers an exciting 24–3 lead with :07 left in the half.

In the third quarter, Plummer finally got the Broncos into the end zone by passing for 80 yards on the drive, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ashley Lelie. But Ben went back to Wilson caught two passes for 45 yards on Pittsburgh’s next possession, setting up another Reed field goal (42 yards) to make the score 27–10 with 13:43 left in the fourth. A Larry Foote interception of Plummer put an end to the next drive, but nothing came of it. On the very next drive, a 38-yard reception by Lelie and a 22-yard pass interference penalty on Taylor set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Mike Anderson, giving the home team some hope at 27–17 midway through the final quarter. Tension started to set in when the Broncos forced a punt for the second-straight series, but Brett Keisel forced a fumble on fourth down from Plummer and his Travis Kirschke recovered it at the Broncos 17-yard line. Four plays later, Roethlisberger put the game out of reach with a 4-yard touchdown run and fulfilled his promise of the year before to get Bettis into the big dance and the Steelers in the Super Bowl for the first time in 16 years.

Two weeks later, the Steelers beat Seattle in Super Bowl XL and the Bus retired on the winner’s podium in his hometown of Detroit. Pittsburgh fans waited a long time to see the Rooney Family and Bill Cowher

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 18, 2009 - Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Baltimore Ravens 14 (2008 AFC Championship Game)

Mike Tomlin’s Men of Steel entered the 2008 season as defending champions of the AFC North and despite facing the most difficult NFL schedule in over 30 years, his 12-4 Steelers won a second-straight division title. With NFL Defensive Player of the Year leading a defense that topped the league in nearly every defensive category. Going into the game, there was concern surrounding that defense, as Troy Polamalu’s right calf injury forced the Steeler star safety to miss most of the week of practice and was walking very gingerly in warm-ups. DC Dick LeBeau stated that an absent Troy would hamper their defense and disallow them to employ a number of schemes they typically ran. Regardless, the Steelers had the players on both sides of the ball capable to get back to the Super Bowl, but so did the opponent firmly in their path. John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens, a team that was dangerous no matter the record or the venue.

On the opening drive, Tomlin’s team started from their own 34. On third and 13, Roethlisberger threw a bullet over the middle to Hines Ward right between ball hawking safeties Jim Leonhard and Ed Reed a 45-yard gain. The Ravens buckled down enough to stall the drive, but Jeff Reed came in to deliver a 32-yard field goal. 3-0 Steelers.

Later on in the quarter, veteran CB Deshea Townsend stepped in front of Joe Flacco’s offering to Derrick Mason for an interception at the Baltimore 35. It was the first interception thrown by the Delaware rookie in his third playoff game. Following the interception, Hines Ward would pick up a first down in front of Frank Walker, but Ward emerged with a twisted knee and had to limp to the sideline to get medical attention. Ward tried to re-enter twice, but the knee wouldn’t allow it. Ben would turn his attention and throw a long pass to Santonio Holmes who seemingly caught it at the one and tried to crawl into the end zone for a score. Tomlin would grab his red flag to challenge, but Raven HC John Harbaugh beat him to it as he saw it as a non-catch. Harbaugh was correct and the call was overturned. The Steelers settled for another field goal from the suddenly bleach blonde that was Jeff Reed. 6-0 Steelers.

On the next drive, the Ravens lived up to their turnover ranking as Ray Lewis punched the ball out of Willie Parker’s (usually secure) mitts and Leonhard recovered. Meanwhile Big Ben was seen near the tunnel grimacing and holding his back. Injuries were threatening to thwart Super Bowl hopes. The threat of losing Ben was merely just a case of worry, as Roethlisberger returned to the field on the next series. No. 7 would lace a short pass to an open Santonio Holmes, who snagged the ball and raced 65-yards to extend the score to 13-0. With 3:37 remaining in the half, Jim Leonhard’s 45-yard return started Baltimore off at the Steeler 17. Leonhard had a clear path to the end zone, but punter Mitch Berger caught him to save the score. On third and 3, the Ravens picked up the blitz and Flacco fired a strike to Mason that was broken up by Bryant McFadden. However, McFadden was called for a PI. With first down at the three and Haoli Ngata in as a blocker, Willis McGahee walked into the end zone. It was now 13-7 with only 2:35 left in the half. After a great return by Santonio Holmes to the 50, Big Ben threw a perfect bomb to the 6’4” rookie Limas Sweed who dropped it like it was a real bomb and laid on the turf feigning injury. The drive stalled. But on the punt, Mitch Berger’s Oscar-winning fall drew a roughing penalty on Edgar Jones, to set the Steelers up at the 35. But Sweed’s fakery cost Pittsburgh a timeout and poor clock management cost a field goal, as Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t get the spike off in time as the clock struck triple zero. The Steelers squandered a valuable three points. It was 13-7 at the half.

The third quarter featured stout defense from both teams, and only a field goal from Reed occurred offensively. It was 16-7 at the end of three. With 12:41 remaining, Berger shanked a punt and Baltimore had great field position and drove the remaining length of the field. The Heinz Field faithful became nervous as Flacco completed four straight passes and drew a PI call on Ike Taylor. Willis McGahee converted from the one. With 9:29 left, the Steeler lead was a mere two at 16-14. When the Steelers’ next drive failed after Terrell Suggs sacked Ben after the Steelers started at their own 40, the Ravens took to the turf with a chance to take the lead with 6:50 remaining on the clock. What seemed to be a starting point at the 40, Darren Stone whipped Anthony Madison down miles out of bounds by the B-More bench. Instead of starting off only 60-yards away, Flacco and the offense started way back at their own 14. The Ravens were trying to move the ball, but the Steeler defense came up big on back-to-back plays. On second down, James Farrior forced Flacco into LaMarr Woodley and No. 56 got his second sack. But fortunes really changed when Flacco threw a pass to Derrick Mason on third and 13 with hopes to move the chains. Troy Polamalu, who had been dominant all game, undercut the route and thieved the ball. No. 43 zigged and zagged and ran from sideline to sideline before he made a beeline to the end zone. In what was one of the most majestic plays in Steeler lore from a player with a wrapped calf, the pick-six iced the game for Pittsburgh.

The following four minutes and change were basically a celebration for Pittsburgh and their fans and a futile attempt for Baltimore to rebound from the death blow that was Troy taking it to the house. However, the celebration turned dark and worrisome when Ryan Clark rocked Willis McGahee with a hit that would leave both players laying on the grass for minutes. Clark was helped off, while McGahee was carted off, but showing movement. The hit was deemed a clean and legal hit as Clark led with his shoulders. The collision caused a fumble in which Pittsburgh recovered. The Ravens had one last gasp, but a tipped pass landed in the hands of Tyrone Carter and that was it with the final gun sounding ad the Steelers dancing among the fireworks with the 23-14 win.

The Steelers were on their way to Tampa and would secure a sixth Lombardi with a thrilling win over the Arizona Cardinals. But this game not only earned yet another Lamar Hunt trophy for the Steel City and the Rooney Family, it further provided the Baltimore/Pittsburgh rivalry as not just one of the best in the NFL, but in all of sports.

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 23, 2011 - Pittsburgh Steelers 24, New York Jets 19 (2010 AFC Championship Game)

With 12-4 Pittsburgh winning the divisional playoff game over a tough Baltimore club to start their postseason at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, it was a rematch with a foe that knew how to come into Pittsburgh and beat the black and gold that remained between the Steelers and their third trip to the Super Bowl in six seasons. The Steelers, having lost to the Jets exactly five weeks earlier, hosted Rex Ryan and his Jets with an opportunity for the Rooney Family Franchise to win a record 7th Lombardi trophy. It was also a chance for Santonio Holmes to get back to the Super Bowl at the expense of his former black-and-gold mates.

The Steelers suffered a huge loss early as center Maurkice Pouncey was rolled up by Bryan Thomas and was lost for the game. The situation looked better on the scoreboard as it seemed that a rout could be on as the Steelers started out with a nine-minute drive that culminated in Rashard Mendenhall (121 yards and a TD) bursting in for the score from one yard away, followed by a Shaun Suisham field goal, a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown run and an Ike Taylor blindside sack of Mark Sanchez that jarred the ball loose for William Gay to scoop and score for a seemingly insurmountable 24-3 advantage at halftime.

In the second half, it would be a slightly different story as the Gang Green from Gotham would phone Holmes for help and get a 45-yard TD reception from No. 10. The defense chipped in when Brodney Poole intercepted Roethlisberger near the goal line to thwart a score, but would squander a 17-play, eight-minute drive when La’Danian Tomlinson ran into a wall of black jerseys at the one to turn the ball over on downs. The Jets would get points though when Ben, with a new center, mishandled the next snap and is tackled in the end zone for the safety. The Jets put Steeler Nation further on the edge of their seats as they took advantage of the free kick and scored on a Sanchez to (future Steeler) Jerricho Cotchery with 3:06 left and the scoreboard reading 24-19. But on 3rd and 6 from the Jet 40 and only 2:00 left on the clock, Roethlisberger rolled out, escaped harm and completedthe pass for 14 yards to rookie Antonio Brown to clinch the game.

The win helped the Steelers punch a ticket to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas against the Green Bay Packers. But without Pouncey, the Steelers had protection problems early and their comeback bid failed. But on this particular frigid night, the Pittsburgh Steelers were red hot and on top of the AFC, hoisting of the Lamar Hunt Trophy for an 8th time.

To watch the full game, click HERE

January 22, 2017 - New England Patriots 36, Pittsburgh Steelers 17 (2016 AFC Championship Game)

There was a lot of excitement for the Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 season, but optimism turned sour when Mike Tomlin’s team was 4-5 after nine games. However, the Steelers reeled off nine-straight wins, including a 30-12 shellacking of the Dolphins in the Wild Card and an 18-16 win in a road contest against the 12-4 Chiefs that featured six Chris Boswell field goals as the only scoring. Finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers would get another chance at the New England Patriots in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years in Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season. That AFC Championship Game was in the Steel City, this time around the venue was Gillette Stadium in Foxborough for all of the AFC marbles.

Bill Belichick’s boys won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, and they wasted little time putting points on the board as Tom Brady went 4-for-5 with passes to Martellus Bennett, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola. After a near interception by Mike Mitchell on a 3rd and 1, Brady made way for Stephen Gostkowski to enter for a chip shot and an early 3-0 lead for New England. After two Pittsburgh drives failed to gain nothing more than one first down, the New England no-huddle offense wore down the Pittsburgh defense as Brady hit Chris Hogan four times on the drive including for a touchdown on 3rd and 6 to give the Patriots a 10-0 lead with 2:47 remaining in the first. The Steelers would get on the scoreboard on the following drive, as they were able to move the ball with relative ease and score their first red-zone touchdown in two weeks as DeAngelo Williams punched the ball into the end-zone for the score after a 13-play drive in which Eli Rogers, Antonio Brown and Jesse James all got involved, but Le’Veon Bell exited the game with a groin injury. More misfortune for the visitors, as Chris Boswell missed the point after, making the score 10-6 early in Quarter No. 2. Shortly after getting the ball back, Brady continued to find Hogan early and often, and the big strike in the drive was a flea flicker for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 17-6 lead. However, Pittsburgh took their next possession and drove down the field, but a backbreaker occurred in what would become an all too familiar sight in this rivalry. When what looked to be a Jesse James touchdown was overturned, Todd Haley’s offense found themselves unable to score from the one-foot line and settled for a Boswell field goal, making the score 17-9 going into the half.

After the Steelers failed to gain a first down to start the second half, New England took their first drive of the third quarter, and due to some questionable penalty calls, were able to move into Gostkowski’s field goal range. His 47-yard field goal added to New England’s lead, 20-9. Of course, the Steelers were looking to get back into the game, but the Patriots had squashed that with a LeGarrette Blount touchdown. When an Eli Rogers fumble followed, Brady’s throw to Edelman gave New England am insurmountable 33-9 lead with 1:35 left in the third when Gostkowski’s extra point failed. After a Cobi Hamilton touchdown reception was annulled due to the receiver stepping out of bounds and illegally touching the ball, a turnover on downs, an interception by Eric Rowe on a deep pass by Ben to Darius Heyward-Bey, and a Gostkowski field goal, the Steelers scored just their second touchdown of the game when Roethlisberger hit Cobi Hamilton for a garbage time touchdown with a successful two-point conversion from No. 7 to DeAngelo to make the score 36-17.

Some Steeler fans blamed the fact that their team’s REM sleep was disturbed around 3 AM when the fire alarm was pulled at their hotel, but the Steelers basically sleepwalked the entire game by allowing the Pats to rack up 431 yards and 26 first downs, including Hogan catching 9 balls for 180 and 2TDs, with Edelman’s 8 grabs for 118 yards and a score. The Steelers did accumulate 368 yards on offense but became fairly one-dimensional team by gaining only 54 total rushing yards when Bell had to exit. The third time was indeed not a charm as New England went on to win a Super Bowl at their black-and-gold expense and the Steelers had 6 long months to chew on the defeat after being so close, and falling so flat, on the AFC’s biggest stage.

To watch the full game, click HERE