It may now be 13 years since the Pittsburgh Steelers were last contending for a Lombardi Trophy, but every generation of black and gold fan has their own Super Bowl memories. Pittsburgh is one of only five teams with at least eight appearances, and of course, their six titles are tied with New England for the most in NFL history.
Here’s a look back at each of the eight Steelers Super Bowl appearances in franchise history, starting with the most recent and working back to their very first Super Bowl appearance, which kicked off the Steel Curtain dynasty to follow.
Super Bowl XLV: Steelers vs. Packers
Date: February 5, 2011
Result: Packers win 31-25
The Steelers were playing catchup for almost this entire game, especially after Nick Collins snagged a pick-six in the first quarter from Ben Roethlisberger to make the score 14-0. But Pittsburgh fought back in the second half, even after Rashard Mendenhall’s momentum-swinging fumble in the fourth quarter. The Steelers got as close as 28-25, but with 5:59 remaining, the defense couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers on a key third-and-ten, leading to the game-clinching touchdown.
Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers vs. Cardinals
Date: February 1, 2009
Result: Steelers win 27-23
This game gave us not only one of the best NFL finales of all time, with Roethlisberger’s game-winning drive and score, but quite possibly one of the best moments in all of football history: the James Harrison 100-yard pick-six. If that moment had not gone the Steelers' way, the turning point could have been the tipped Roethlisberger throw that was intercepted two minutes earlier. It caused the defense to have the backs up against the wall in the first place. If the game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes is a masterpiece, then the drive that led to it is the Super Bowl equivalent of the Sistine Chapel.
Super Bowl XL: Seahawks vs. Steelers
Date: February 5, 2006
Result: Steelers win 21-10
Seattle fans will remember this game for the first-half officiating, with the referees calling back a first-quarter touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson and a 34-yard punt return from Peter Warrick. Pittsburgh actually failed to achieve a first down in the first quarter. But in the second quarter, they converted the longest third down in Super Bowl history when Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward on a third-and-28. Pittsburgh opened the second half with Willie Parker’s iconic 75-yard touchdown run. Later, a 76-yard Kelly Herndon interception sparked a Seattle comeback, but an Ike Taylor pick in the fourth quarter led to touchdown trickery from Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward. it was the first touchdown pass from a receiver in the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXX: Cowboys vs. Steelers
Date: January 28, 1996
Result: Cowboys win 27-17
Pittsburgh was a 13.5-point underdog coming into this game, so it seemed like a minor miracle that the black and gold were only trailing 13-7 at halftime. Even after a third-quarter interception from Neil O’Donnell to Larry Brown, the Steelers found themselves only trailing 20-10 in the fourth. That’s when Bill Cowher called for an onside kick that Deon Figures successfully recovered. Pittsburgh found themselves 68 yards away from a fourth-quarter comeback, when O’Donnell threw his second pick to Larry Brown, sealing the Dallas victory.
Super Bowl XIV: Rams vs. Steelers
Date: January 20, 1980
Result: Steelers win 31-19
Despite the final score, this game saw seven lead changes, which is still a Super Bowl record. Though the Rams were big underdogs entering this game, they held a 19-17 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Enter Terry Bradshaw, who connected with John Stallworth for a 73-yard touchdown on a third-and-eight. Later, Bradshaw found Stallworth again on another key third-and-seven. Bradshaw’s 309-yard performance earned him his second MVP award.
Super Bowl XIII: Steelers vs. Cowboys
Date: January 21, 1979
Result: Steelers win 35-31
The first Super Bowl rematch. The final score is a little closer than how the game played out in real-time. Pittsburgh had a 21-14 lead at halftime and never trailed again during the game. Cowboys fans will remember this game for tight end Jackie Smith’s wide-open drop in the end zone. The fourth quarter gave us an iconic Franco Harris moment, when he called for the ball after Hollywood Henderson taunted Terry Bradshaw, and subsequently ran 22 yards up the middle for a touchdown. Bradshaw’s 318-yard, four-touchdown performance earned him Super Bowl MVP.
Super Bowl X: Cowboys vs. Steelers
Date: January 18, 1976
Result: Steelers win 21-17
The first second-half comeback in Super Bowl history. The mighty Steel Curtain defense initially appeared to have exposed its Achilles Heel, allowing Roger Staubach to score a first-quarter touchdown (the only time that happened all season). However, Pittsburgh ended up with seven sacks in the game (four from L.C. Greenwood alone) and three interceptions. Special teams sparked the comeback in the fourth quarter, with Reggie Harrison blocking a punt that went through the end zone for a safety. Then, on the Cowboys’ next drive, a Mike Wagner interception prevented a Dallas comeback. The most memorable play from this game was Lynn Swann’s levitating leap, even though that drive ended in no points. The more important play from Swann’s MVP performance was his 64-yard touchdown completion with 4:25 left in the fourth. This game also gave us the iconic Lambert v Harris moment, when the latter taunted kicker Roy Gerela after a field goal miss.
Super Bowl IX: Steelers vs. Vikings
Date: January 12, 1975
Result: Steelers win 16-6
This was the day the Steel Curtain dynasty was born. If you like defensive struggles, Super Bowl IX was for you. Pittsburgh held Minnesota to 119 total offensive yards, despite losing Andy Russell and Jack Lambert to injuries. The only scoring in the first half was a Steelers safety that occurred with 1:17 left in the second quarter. In the second half, Mean Joe Greene single-handedly stopped two Vikings drives, one by interception, the other by forced fumble. The game-sealing drive in the fourth quarter featured three big third-down conversions, including one for a touchdown to tight end Larry Brown. Pittsburgh’s 57 total rushing attempts helped Franco Harris take home the MVP honors.
Which was your favorite Steelers Super Bowl? Most boring? Most exciting? Let us know in the comments!