Yes, believe it or not, despite the Steelers’ season ending without a Super Bowl victory, there were actually a lot of memorable moments during their 2017 campaign.
After all, they did win 13 games, and when that occurs, great moments tend to be accumulated along the way, along with favorite wins.
I thought about ranking all 13 victories in one article, or even creating a series of articles ranking the wins or even memories from worst to first—which would extend the series into Week 4 of the 2018 regular season.
However, ranking a bunch of great moments or all 13 victories would be rather disingenuous on my part, considering I'm normally pretty easy when it comes to wins.
In other words, if the Steelers win, I'm usually pretty happy.
But there was one victory during the 2017 season that ranked above the rest—and I gotta tell ya', it wasn't really that close.
I'm talking about the Week 4 road thumping of the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 1.
M&T Bank Stadium had become a house of horrors for Pittsburgh in recent years, with the team having lost in five of the previous six trips there.
Even though the Ravens were beaten, battered and bruised, and coming off a 37-point shellacking at the hands of the Jaguars a week earlier in London, I just had a bad feeling in the days leading up to this game.
I mean, if the Ravens could beat up on Pittsburgh at home with the just-signed-off-the-streets Ryan Mallett at quarterback (something that actually happened in Week 16 of the 2015 season), the sky was possibly the limit with Joe Flacco taking the snaps from center.
Speaking of a bad feeling—well more like a nauseating one—if you recall, the week leading up to the trip to Baltimore was the week when thousands of fans took to social media (or so it seemed) to proclaim they would never watch the Steelers again.
This was the result of the team's "anti-American" decision to stay in the tunnel at Soldier Field, rather than make things political by joining other NFL teams with displays of protests during the national anthem.
I don't want to get into all of that but, way back then, everyone and their mother did, as—in addition to NFL boycotts—videos of fans burning their Steeler gear began popping up all over the Internet like weeds in the summer.
Anyway, to make matters worse, all of this nonsense and negative feedback from the fans came in the aftermath of an ugly overtime loss to a Bears team Pittsburgh was favored to beat by double digits.
Again, I don't want to get into it, but let's just say I had a "Screw you!" attitude that entire week, as it pertained to those "fans" who, among other things, thought they were being clever by spouting off gibberish such as "The Pittsburgh Kneelers" (nevermind that they never actually knelt on the sidelines of Soldier Field), and were now openly rooting for the Ravens to win..the team that actually knelt on the sidelines in London (something I didn't actually have a problem with, by the way).
During the entire week leading up to that game against the Ravens, for whatever reason, I felt as if the Steelers’ pride (or the pride that I actually had in being a fan of them for many years) was on the line.
As for the game itself, even though it was very early in the season, and there really wasn't much at stake other than getting off to what would be an impressive 3-1 start, I had butterflies in my stomach the size of bats. This feeling persisted all throughout the first half, even though Pittsburgh built a 19-0 lead on the strength of two Chris Boswell field goals and touchdowns by running back Le'Veon Bell (one-yard run) and rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (11-yard pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger).
The Steelers were due to receive the second half kickoff, and I had visions of a clock-eating touchdown drive that would drive the final stake into the hearts of the home crowd, sending folks to the exits early.
What I got instead was an annoying mix of John Harbaugh's savvy nature and the over-officiated nature of the NFL.
On third and six, Roethlisberger attempted to hit receiver Antonio Brown with a short pass. Brown appeared to catch the football but was immediately tackled to the turf by cornerback Jimmy Smith, well-short of the first down mark. Yes, the ball did pop up in the air and was intercepted by annoying safety Eric Weddle, but the play was blown dead because, as I just alluded to, Brown was down by contact.
But Harbaugh, being the savvy jerk that he is, knew that—if it was deemed that Brown never actually had control of the football—it would be ruled an incomplete pass. And since the football never actually hit the turf, Weddle's pick would be legit.
Sure enough, Weddle's pick was legit, and the Ravens took over deep in Pittsburgh territory.
Thankfully, the Ravens, being the anemic offense they normally are, could only capitalize on their coach's savvy tendencies by turning this gift into a Justin Tucker 42-yard field goal.
The Steelers immediately went on an extended drive and appeared ready to take those three points back. Unfortunately, Boswell's 44-yard attempt was no good.
Since this was Baltimore, and since this was M&T Bank Stadium, I knew I just couldn't enjoy a nice, easy win, a point that was further driven home, when the Ravens quickly marched 66 yards on three plays and made it 19-9 on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to—of all one-trick ponies—Mike Wallace.
So, with still more than 21 minutes left in the game, I now had visions of an epic collapse that surely would have made me want to call in sick to The Final Score, the weekly post-game show I did with Bryan Anthony Davis.
After some exchanging of punts, Ryan Shazier stepped up and intercepted Flacco near midfield with about 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and I—around 2:30 in the afternoon on October 1, mind you—jumped up and screamed "Yeah!" like I just watched Ben To 10 in Super Bowl XLIII.
I was super-excited, to say the least.
Even though the Steelers quickly went three and out, their offense got a reprieve moments later, when a fourth down pass from Flacco was intercepted by Mike Hilton following a tip from—there's that man again—Ryan Shazier.
Anyway, Pittsburgh put the final nail in the coffin by marching 49 yards on seven plays and put the game away on Bell's second one-yard touchdown run of the afternoon.
The final score was 26-9, and I was so darned happy, I even called my brother to celebrate as the final seconds ticked off of the game clock.
The Steelers had a lot of exciting finishes in 2017—including that epic 39-38 victory over the Ravens weeks later that clinched the AFC North.
However, for reasons that were varied, nothing felt sweeter last season than when the Steelers went to M&T Bank Stadium in Week 4 and had their way with the Ravens.