Bracketing the best teams in the past 50 years of Pittsburgh Steelers history never to win a title. Who do you consider “Best of the Rest”?
BTSC looks back at the teams that Steeler Nation counts as the best and most memorable in franchise lore that failed to hoist the Lombardi. As we enter into March Madness, BTSC presents a “Not Sweet Enough 16” over the next month to crown the “Best of the Rest”. The last time around the immaculate, No. 4-seeded team from 1972 battled Bill Cowher’s first team, the 1992 Steelers. Here are the final tallies…
1972 – Immaculately Sewing the Seeds of a Dynasty (11-3) – 77%
1992 – Cowher Power is Born (11-5) – 23%
This time around, the fifth-seeded 2010 team (12-4) that slipped on the stairway to seven does battle with the twelth-seeded 1997 team (11-5) that John Elway vanquished for his shot at glory. Be sure to vote for the best or most memorable team (your choice) below in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments section. Check back to BTSC Wednesday for the results.
No. 5 Seed: 2010 (12-4)
Pittsburgh’s dynastic chances took a hit in 2009 after the Super Bowl victory in the 2008 campaign, but 2010 was supposed to be the chance to rectify that. It started off very unlikely in the offseason when Santonio Holmes, who was suspended for the first four weeks of the season because of substance abuse, freaked out on a plane and was subsequently traded to the New York Jets for a fifth rounder. Ben Roethlisberger received a six-game ban (later reduced to four) for an alleged sexual assault in Milledgeville, GA in which he was not charged. 2010 also saw the departures of RB Willie Parker, CB Deshea Townsend and S Tyrone Carter and the return of LB Larry Foote, CB Bryant McFadden and WR Antwaan Randle-El. The team’s biggest performances came courtesy of Ben, Mike Wallace (1,257 receiving yards/10 TDs), Rashard Mendenhall (1,273 rushing yards/13 TDs), James Harrison (NFL Defensive Player of the Year), LaMarr Woodley (10 sacks) and Troy Polamalu (7 INTs). The season began with Dennis Dixon behind center in a victory vs. Atlanta. It was won when Mendenhall galloped 50 yards in OT for a score. The next week saw Charlie Batch take over for Dixon in a win that saw Antonio Brown take the opening kick 89 yards for a score. After a 3-1 start, Ben returned in Week 5 and went 9-3 in the final three quarter of the campaign. The signature win came in Week 13 against the team that they battled neck-and-neck for the division all year, the Baltimore Ravens. No. 7, booted-up with a broken foot, suffered a gruesome nose break in the game. Trailing 10-6 late in the fourth, LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu teamed up with a sack and recovery of Flacco. Roethlisberger found Isaac Redman for a nine-yard score and the win. In the playoffs, they came from behind 14 points vs. Baltimore to win 31-24. In the AFCCG, the Steelers bested Santonio Holmes and the Jets to reach the Super Bowl. In their eighth SB, Ben threw an ugly pick-six and Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson were one step ahead of the secondary and shot the Pack out to an 18-point lead in Q2. But the Steelers mounted a furious comeback and were driving for the lead late in the fourth. However, Rashard Mendenhall fumbled and (after a GB FG) a last minute comeback was suffocated by the Green Bay defense and the Steelers fell in their most-recent SB.
Pro Bowlers: James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Troy Polamalu and Maurkice Pouncey
First-Team All Pros: James Harrison and Troy Polamalu
Second-Team All Pros: Maurkice Pouncey
Team MVP: Troy Polamalu
No. 1 Draft Pick: Maurkice Pouncey
Rookie of the Year: Maurkice Pouncey
No. 12 Seed: 1997 (11-5)
1997 saw Kordell Stewart finally seize the starting QB job for the Steelers and many viewed this season an uncertainty due to the loss in Free Agency of LB Chad Brown, CBs Rod Woodson and Deon Figures, WRs Ernie Mills and Andre Hastings and DL Brentson Buckner. This was also the season that the team changed their block-style numbers to the rounded digits to match the ones on the helmets. The team also re-established themselves as a running team with the NFL’s most attempts of the decade (572) and the third-most yards (2,479) of the 90s. Leading the team were Stewart, Jerome Bettis (1,665 yards and 9 TDs total), Yancey Thigpen (1,398 yards and 7 TDs), Levon Kirkland (5 sacks), Carnell Lake (3 INTs and 6 sacks), Darren Perry (4 INTs), Donell Wolford (4 INTs) and Norm Johnson (106 points). The season started off with an ugly 37-7 loss to Dallas at home and by Week 3…the team was 1-2. But they won 10 of 12 with multiple come-from-behind wins, including a deficit of 21 against the Ravens in Week 6. The big wins of the season came against Denver (35-24) in Week 15 and an OT thriller in the snow against New England in Week 16. They would face both those teams at home in the playoffs. The Steelers beat NE 7-6 in the Divisional Round only to see Kordell throw three picks in a 24-21 loss to Denver in the AFCCG. Despite falling short with a Super Bowl ticket on the line, 1997 was a very entertaining year.
Pro Bowlers: Jerome Bettis, Dermontti Dawson, Levon Kirkland, Carnell Lake, Joel Steed and Yancey Thigpen
First-Team All Pros: Dermontti Dawson, Levon Kirkland and Carnell Lake
Second-Team All Pros: Jerome Bettis and Yancey Thigpen
Team MVP: Jerome Bettis
No. 1 Draft Pick: Chad Scott
Rookie of the Year: Chad Scott