As with Three Rivers Stadium, Heinz Field has also been the site of some of the greatest games in Steelers history. As the organization embarks on its next fifteen years at Heinz Field, here's a look back at some of the most memorable Steelers victories during the stadium's first fifteen years.
Here's my top ten list:
10. 2004: Steelers 34 Patriots 20
The Steelers were in the midst of a 15-1 regular season. At the midway point, they met the hated Patriots. The Steelers thumped them (a rare occurrence these last fifteen years) and, in the process, ended the Patriots 21 game winning streak. Deshea Townsend returned a Tom Brady interception 39 yards for a touchdown, and rookie Ben Roethlisberger connected with Plaxico Burress on a 47 yard touchdown bomb.
9. 2007: Steelers 3 Dolphins 0
This certainly wasn't one of the greatest games in Steelers history, but it was one of the most memorable. A torrential rainstorm soaked the city, and the Monday night contest was delayed due to lightning. Making matters worse was the new layer of sod that had been hastily put down before the game. Drainage was severely inhibited, leaving the field a veritable swamp. The image of a punt sticking directly into the turf is one for the blooper reel. In the end, Jeff Reed kicked a 24-yard field goal with seventeen seconds left to preserve the victory.
8. 2007: Steelers 38 Ravens 7
This was a Monday night beatdown of epic proportions. It was also James Harrison's coming out party as one of the best defenders in the NFL. Harrison recorded two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception, and 2½ sacks...and, he did it all in the first half! Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger passed for five touchdowns, all of them also in the first half.
7. 2005: Steelers 21 Bears 9
The image of Jerome Bettis bulldozing Brian Urlacher at the goal line will forever be etched in the minds of the Steelers faithful. This victory also sparked the Steelers run to their Super Bowl XL championship. Adding to the game's enduring memory is the snowstorm that covered the field and most of the city during the second half.
6. 2010 AFC Divisional Game: Steelers 31 Ravens 24
A 58 yard completion to Antonio Brown on 3rd and 19 with 2:07 left in the forth quarter paved the way for the game-winning touchdown and a come-from-behind victory. The Steelers looked two steps too slow in the first half and trailed Baltimore 21-7. In the third quarter, the defense came alive and snatched the ball away from the Ravens on three out of four possessions. The Steelers went ahead 24-21. With the game tied at 24, Brown's "against the helmet" catch enabled the Steelers to eek out the victory.
The victory sent the Steelers to their third Super Bowl in six years. Thanks to a Will Gay fumble return for a touchdown, the Steelers found themselves up 24 to 3 at the half. They withstood a furious 4th quarter Jets surge and held on for the win and the AFC Championship.
4. 2004 AFC Divisional Game: Steelers 20 Jets 17
This game had one of the most unreal finishes in Steelers history. With under two minutes to play and the game tied at 17, Doug Brien's 47 yard field goal attempt clanged off of the left upright. But on the next play, Ben Roethlisberger (playing in his first playoff game) was picked off, and Brien had a second chance to win the game for New York. This time, his kick went wide left as time expired. In overtime, Jeff Reed hit the game winner from 33 yards out.
3. 2002 AFC Wild Card Game: Steelers 36 Browns 33
This game became known in Steelers lore as "The Comeback." The team trailed 24 to 7 in the third quarter and 33 to 21 midway through the fourth. That's when the NFL's "Comeback Player of the Year," Tommy Maddox, put the team on his shoulders and rallied them to a 36 to 33 win. Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala's three-yard TD run and Antwaan Randle El's subsequent two point conversion pass to Jeremy Tuman gave the Steelers their first lead of the game and the victory.
2. 2001: Steelers 16 Bengals 7
Okay, so the game itself wasn't that memorable, but it was the first. It also took place against the backdrop of an emotional, historical event. The inaugural game at Heinz Field was supposed to take place against the Browns, but then 9-1-1 occurred, and that game was moved to the end of the season. This left the Bengals as the first regular season opponent the Steelers faced at Heinz Field.
1. 2008 AFC Championship: Steelers 23 Ravens 14
This was one of the most brutally hard-hitting games in team (or even NFL) history. It was punctuated by big plays, none of which bigger than Troy Polamalu's 40 yard pick-six with less than five minutes to play. The Steelers defense added two more takeaways in the final minutes to seal the victory, en route to a Super Bowl XLIII championship.
2008: Steelers 11 Chargers 10
This regular season contest is memorable for two reasons: Troy Polamalu's unbelievable, one-handed interception and the numbers on the scoreboard at the end of the game. The 11 to 10 final was the first and only time in NFL history that a game was decided by that score.