The Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 offseason has reached the six-week period of no activities leading up to training camp. With extra time to think about things during the “no news is good news” time of the calendar, there have been several moments from the 2022 season which may have fallen out of some of our memories. But if we were to look back at the Steelers season, the first one of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, 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 2022.
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 2022 season. Can we really say that their best game came in a loss? Rather than waste our time throwing those into the mix, we’re going to stick with the nine wins from the Steelers 2022 campaign.
But with nine games comes an uneven bracket. For this reason, there will be one play-in game, 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.
This week, BTSC will be deciding a winner from the final four Monday and Tuesday with the ultimate champion coming on Thursday. 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 first matchup in this round to go to the finals features the Steelers Week 1 win in Cincinnati which took down the Saints game 82% to 18% against the Week 17 victory in Baltimore which moved on 93% to 7% against the Colts.
Week 1 at the Cincinnati Bengals: 23-20 (OT)
Week 1 of the NFL season brings in every team on an even playing field when it comes to record. But with the Cincinnati Bengals coming off an appearance in the Super Bowl, they were seven-point favorites at home against the Steelers in their first game of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. It took five takeaways and seven sacks for the Steelers pull off the overtime victory in Cincinnati.
The Steelers opened their season with a three and out after losing their first challenge of the season on the spot of the ball being enough for a first down. But on the Bengals first possession, Joe Burrow was sacked on first down by Cam Heyward and picked off on his second play by Minkah Fitzpatrick who returned the interception for a 31-yard touchdown. On the Bengals next possession, it appeared Alex Highsmith‘s sack took the Bengals out of field goal range, but Evan McPherson connected on the 59-yard kick and the Steelers held a 7–3 lead.
The Steelers offense was once again held without a first down on their next possession, but the Steelers got the ball back in good field position after another Alex Highsmith sack created a fumble which was snapped out of the air by Cam Heyward. The Steelers ran a reverse on the first play which was tossed back to Mitch Trubisky and he connected with Pat Freiermuth for 31 yards down to the Bengals 3-yard line. But the Steelers could not punch it in and settled for a short field goal to push the lead to 10–3.
On the Bengals next possession, they pushed the ball over midfield at the end of the quarter and moved to the edge of field-goal range only to have T.J. Watt pull in an interception. Starting at their own 41-yard line, the Steelers had a 15-yard chase Claypool rush and a 32-yard catch and run by Zach Gentry to set them up inside the Bengals 10-yard line. After failing on 3rd & goal from the 3-yard line, a pass interference penalty was drawn by George Pickens and two plays later Mitch Trubisky hit Najee Harris for 1-yard touchdown.
The Bengals next possession saw another interception, this time by Cam Sutton, but the Steelers followed up with another three and out deep in their own territory. With four minutes left to go in the half, the Bengals moved inside the Steelers 10-yard line but could not punch it in and settled for the short field goal to move the halftime score to 17–6.
The Bengals started the second half with a three of out, but a 58-yard punt set the Steelers up at their own 9-yard line. After getting one first down, the Steelers moved backward to their own 16-yard line to have only a 40-yard punt returned 10 yards and the Bengals started at the Steelers 46-yard line. Nine plays later, Joe Burrow found Tyler Boyd for 2-yard touchdown and a successful two-point conversion brought the score to 17–14.
Using four minutes of clock, the Steelers only managed one first down and punted the ball back to Cincinnati with only seconds left in the third quarter. Another Alex Highsmith sack helped create a three and out and the Steelers got a 20-yard Gunner Olszewski punt return to set them up in Cincinnati territory. Only managing to move the ball into field goal range, a 48-yard kick from Chris Boswell pushed the score to 20–14.
The Bengals once again moved to the edge of field-goal range but another Joe Burrow interception, this time by Ahkello Witherspoon, ended the drive. The Steelers achieved one first down and reached their own 40-yard line only to have to punt again. Harvin‘s punt reached the end zone, but a holding penalty set the Bengals up at their own 30.
With 6:05 left in the game, the Bengals pushed the ball all the way down to the Steelers 2-yard line only to fail on a fourth down attempt with 1:51 left in the game. After a taunting penalty moved the ball out to the 17-yard line, the Steelers could not manage a first down and had to punt from their own 19 and gave the ball back to the Bengals at their 40-yard line with 1:27 remaining.
The Bengals reached the red zone with 0:27 left in the game and pushed the ball all the way down to the Steelers 6-yard line. After T.J. Watt left the game due to injury, the Bengals scored a 6-yard touchdown with 0:02 remaining needing only the extra points to seal the victory. But with a reserve long snapper giving the Steelers an extra fraction of a second longer, Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked the extra point and the game was headed to overtime.
Winning the coin toss and receiving the kickoff, the Steelers went three and out and gave the ball back to the Bengals at their own 25-yard line. Moving the ball all the way down to the Steelers 11-yard line, the Bengals went for the short field goal on third down but unwisely kicked the ball on a bad snap instead of falling on it and trying again and missed the 29-yard field goal.
The first play for the Steelers saw an impressive 25-yard catch for Diontae Johnson that took replay in order to award and the Steelers moved to the edge of field goal range. Chris Boswell’s 55-yard attempt hit the upright and the game continued. After one first down, the Bengals faced a third and four on the Steelers 38-yard line when Arthur Maulet sacked Joe Burrow and stripped the ball only for the Bengals to recover at midfield. After a touchback, the Steelers completed a 26-yard pass to Pat Freiermuth on 3rd & 1 after getting a free play by drawing the Bengals offsides and were in Cincinnati territory. Another 10-yard completion to Freiermuth set the Steelers up for a 53-yard field goal with 0:05 left in overtime. This time, Boswell connected for the Steelers victory.
View highlights of the Week 1 victory over the Bengals via the Steelers YouTube channel HERE.
Week 17 at the Baltimore Ravens: 16-13
The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2023 calendar year at 7–8 and still alive for the postseason although needing a lot of help. First simply trying to get back to .500, the Steelers traveled to Baltimore to face the 10–5 Ravens who were without their starting quarterback but with the defense who had surrendered more than 14 points in a game only once since Halloween. With the game getting flexed into Sunday Night Football on New Year’s Day, the Steelers were held out of the end zone for 59 minutes only to complete a dramatic come back.
The Steelers won the opening toss and chose to receive the ball and ran almost 8 minutes off the clock before stalling at the Baltimore 2-yard line and settling for the short field goal. The Ravens held the ball for the remainder of the quarter and answered with a 30-yard field goal just into quarter number two.
The teams exchange punts the next two drives before the Steelers moved the ball into Ravens territory only to miss their 48-yard field goal attempt with 3:30 remaining in the half. The Ravens moved the ball across midfield prior to the two minute warning and finished off the touchdown drive with a Tyler Huntley pass to Isaiah Likely from 7 yards out with 0:07 left in the half to take the 10–3 lead.
Looking to score on back-to-back drives without the Steelers possessing the ball due to the halftime break, the Ravens moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory and connected on a 51-yard field goal to take a 13–3 lead. The Steelers answered with their own 51-yard field goal after a key 3rd & 14 completion to George Pickens. The Steelers defense dug in at midfield on the Ravens next drive to force the punt and took over at their own 5-yard line as the third quarter was winding down. The Steelers were able to move the ball to the red zone only to stall again and settle for another three points from Chris Boswell bringing the score to 13–9.
The ensuing kick off saw the Ravens return it to the Steelers 40-yard line only for the Steelers to push them back two yards and force a punt with 8:41 remaining in the game. The Steelers could not get out of the shadow of their own end zone but Pressley Harvin gave the team a timely 51-yard punt to force the Ravens to start in their own territory. Forcing a three and out, the Steelers took over on their own 20-yard line with 4:16 remaining.
Connecting for a 20-yard gain to Pat Freiermuth followed by a 28-yard pass to Steven Sims right before the two minute warning, the Steelers were just outside the red zone trailing by four points. Running the ball and forcing the Ravens to use their timeouts, the Steelers faced a 3rd & 8 on the Ravens 10-yard line with 1:02 left when Kenny Pickett scrambled to his left and hit Najee Harris for a 10-yard touchdown.
Taking over at their own 25-yard line with 0:56 remaining in the game and no timeouts, the Ravens spiked the ball with 0:20 remaining on their own 38-yard line only for the next play to bring an interception by Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Steelers took victory formation and left Baltimore with a .500 record for the first time in the 2022 season since Week 2.
View highlights of the Week 17 victory over the Ravens via the Steelers YouTube channel HERE.
So there are the two games highlighted in the first matchup of this round to determine the Steelers best game of the 2022 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 2022?
This poll is closed
Week 1 at the Cincinnati Bengals: 23-20 (OT)
Week 17 at the Baltimore Ravens: 16-13