The Steelers 1997 season embodied the career of Kordell Stewart.
The 1997 season was an erratic roller coaster ride where the highs were certainly worth the lows. Like their quarterback, the Steelers struggled mightily at times, but when they were hot, they were arguably the best team with the most electrifying quarterback in football.
Week 6 of that season against the Ravens was one of the roller coaster games for Slash and the Steelers. After a streaky start to the season had Pittsburgh at 2-2 entering the contest, the visiting Steelers fell behind 21-0 as Stewart struggled to the tune of three interceptions. Trailing 24-7 at halftime, Stewart and the Steelers dominated the second half. Pittsburgh outscored Baltimore 35-10 after halftime, as Slash gashed the Ravens with four second half touchdowns after scoring the Steelers lone touchdown in the first half. Stewart's final touchdown, a 74-yard jaunt that ended with him passing out in the end zone, was the exclamation point on the Steelers' 42-34 win that saw Slash account for 246 passing yards, 78 rushing yards and five total touchdowns.
Nine weeks later, the 9-4 Steelers welcomed the 11-2 Broncos to town for a pivotal AFC showdown. As was the case throughout that season, Pittsburgh started slow, and Denver took advantage by taking a 21-7 second quarter lead. Another recurring theme of the '97 season was the Steelers ability to bounce back from such deficits, which was the case on this chilly mid-December duel. After connecting to score Pittsburgh's first touchdown in the first quarter, two more touchdown passes from Stewart to Yancy Thigpen tied the score at intermission, and after the Broncos briefly regained the lead with a field goal, Stewart capped off two long drives with touchdown runs to lift Pittsburgh to a 35-24 triumph. Just as he had weeks earlier in Baltimore, Stewart again threw for three touchdown passes while rushing for two more in a single game, while recording his first-ever 300-yard passing game in the process.
The next week, the Steelers would again pull out a miracle victory, as Stewart helped will Pittsburgh back from deficits of 14-0 and 21-13 to win in overtime in New England, 24-21. The win clinched the AFC Central division title for the fourth straight year, while Stewart became the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 20 and run for 10 touchdowns in the same season.
While Terry Bradshaw has four Super Bowl rings and Ben Roethlisberger has two rings of his own and nearly every Steelers passing record, Stewart will always have that magical 1997 season that was highlighted by his two mystifying efforts in Baltimore and against the Broncos that have truly stood the test of time.