On September 20th the city of Pittsburgh finally got its first taste of pro-football when the Pirates debuted with a 23-2 loss to the New York Giants at Forbes Field. A week later the Pirates would squeeze out a 14-13 victory at Forbes over the Chicago Cardinals. The Pirates would go on to complete their first season with a 3-6-2 record. However, Coach Jap Douds was still replaced by Luby DiMelio, following the season.
The Pirates win 2 of their first 3 games, but those wins end up being the only wins on the season as the Pirates suffer a miserable 2-10 season, in which they were shut out 5times, and only scored more than 10 runs 3 times.
Under Joe Bach, the Pirates 3rd Coach in as many years the Pirates continue to struggle finishing with a 4-8 record, while compiling less than 2,000 yards total on offense on the season.
The Pirates get off to a great start winning their first 3 games on the way to a 6-3 start that had them in 1st Place in the Eastern Division. However, the bottom would suddenly fall out and the Pirates lost their final 3 games by a combined 72-9 score, to fall to 6-6. Had they won just one of those games they would have played for the NFL Championship. Following the season Coach Joe Bach is replaced by Johnny "Blood" McNally.
The Pirates would get off to a solid start again winning their first 2 games but their typical struggles would arise again, as they only won 2 of their last 9 games, to finish with a 4-7 record.
The Pirates make history by signing Colorado All-American RB Byron "Whizzer" White a $15,800 contract, making him the first big money player in the NFL. He would pay immediate dividends leading the league in rushing. However, the Pirates still struggled and finished in Last Place with a 2-9 record. It would also be the only season in Pittsburgh for Byron "Whizzer" White, as he left to play for the Detroit Lions. He would later gain notoriety by serving on the US Supreme Court for 31 years.
The Pirates struggle from the start of the season losing their first 3 games, which included back-to-back shutouts, as Coach Johnny "Blood" McNally is fired. However, under his replacement Walt Kiesling the Pirates would not fare much better, as they did not win a game until the season finale at Forbes Field against the Philadelphia Eagles, as they finished the season with an awful 1-9-1 record.
After struggle for 7 years, Owner Art Rooney renamed his team Steelers, to give them a new identity, and name more closely linked with blue-collar city of Pittsburgh. The new named seemed to work as the Steelers were unbeaten through their first 3 games. However, the same struggles would creep up again as the Steelers lost their next 7 games before shutting out the Eagles in Philadelphia in the season finale to finish with a 2-7-2 record. Following the season Coach Walt Kiesling is released.
Assuming the coaching reigns is Co-owner Bert Bell. However, after 2 frustrating losses he would resign, and be replaced by Buff Donelli. Donelli would not fare much better as the Steelers continued to lose, before he is fired after just 5 games. Replacing Donelli would be Walt Kiesling who was released after the following season. The Steelers would show improvement right away tying their first game in Kiesling's return. A week later they would stun the Brooklyn Dodgers, who were a playoff contender at Forbes Field. However that would be the only win of the season as the Steelers finished with an awful 1-9-1 record.
The Steelers season dose not start off good as they lose their first 2 games, but led by Rookie RB Bill Dudley who led the NFL in rushing the Steelers posted a 7-4 record, earning their first winning season in franchise history.
With World War II fully under way the Steelers are among many teams struggling to find players, with many of their regulars off fighting the war. For the Steelers these players missing included Bill Dudley. Faced with not being able to field a team the Steelers struck a deal to merge with Philadelphia Eagles. The two teams would split alternate home games and coaches, and would officially be known as the Phil-Pitt Steagles combing the two teams' names. The makeshift Steagles would actually be competitive posting a solid 5-4-1 record.
After not being able to come together for a 2nd season with Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers sought out another merger, this time joining with Chicago Cardinals. With same deal in place the team would be officially known as Card-Pitt. However, unlike their merger with the Eagles, the merger with Cardinals was a total disaster. The Cardinals who were the worst team at the time dragged down the Steelers as Card-Pitt were rolled over and walked on all season losing all 10 games.
With World War II wrapping up, the NFL saw a return of many of its stars including Steelers RB Bill Dudley. However, the team would not fare much better finishing with an awful 2-8 season in their first season on their own in 3 years. Following the season Coach Walt Kiesling, who survived 2 mergers was fired and replaced by Jock Sutherland.
In his first full season back from the war, RB Bill Dudley earns MVP honors by leading the league in rushing, interceptions, and punt returns. However, the Steelers who were in playoff contention all season drop 3 of their final 4 games to finish with a 5-5-1 record.
The Steelers finally become serious contenders, winning 6 in a row after a 1-2 start to find themselves in 1st Place. However, back-to-back road losses over the Chicago Bears, and Philadelphia Eagles forced the Steelers to win their final game of the season just to finish in a 1st place tie with an 8-4 record. In the Division Playoff the Steelers were never in the game being completely dominated in a 21-0 loss at Forbes Field to the Eagles.
Coming off a Playoff Appearance there was reason for hope. However, tragedy would strike just as Coach Jock Sutherland dies suddenly during a scouting trip. Under his replacement Johnny Michelosen the Steelers would struggle finishing with a disappointing 4-8 record.
The Steelers get off to a promising start by winning 4 of their first 5 games. However they would fade quickly winning just 1 of their next 6 games. The Steelers would still manage a winning record by winning their last game over the Bulldogs in New York to finish with a 6-5-1 record.
The Steelers get off to a miserable start losing 5 of their first 7 games. However they would manage to finish on a strong note by winning 4 of their last 5 games to finish with a 6-6 record.
The Steelers stumble out of the gate going winless in their first 4 games. They would finish the season by rotating wins and losses finish with a putrid 4-7-1 record. Following the season Coach Johnny Mickelson is fired and replaced by Joe Bach who coached the team 16 years earlier.
In his 2nd stints as Coach Joe Bach's first move was to scrap the antiquated single wing used in the T-formation, making the Steelers the last team to abandon the once famous formation. However, the Steelers did not fare any better under the new scheme losing their first 4 games. However a late season 3-game winning streak gave them some hope as they finished with a 5-7 record.
The inconstant Steelers show flashes of brilliance one week while stumbling the next week, during a season in which they alternate wins and losses all season finishing with a 6-6 record.
The Steelers get off to a solid start winning 4 of their first 5 games, including an impressive 55-27 win at Forbes Field over the eventual NFL Champion Cleveland Browns. However, the wins would not come in the 2nd half as the Steelers lost 6 of their last 7 games to finish with a 5-7 record. Following the season, Coach Joe Bach is forced to resign due to health concerns. He would be replaced by Walt Kiesling who had 2 previous tenures coaching the Steelers.
Owner Art Rooney uses a 20th round draft pick to select QB Johnny Unitas, just because he wanted to select a Pittsburgh native. However, in training camp Unitas is never given a chance and released. He would remerge a few years later with Baltimore Colts, and would become one of the greatest Quarterbacks of all-time. Perhaps the Steelers could have used Unitas as they struggled again finishing with a woeful 4-8 record.
The Steelers continue to struggle amassing a 5-7 record, in what turn out to be Walt Kiesling's final year as coach. Following the season Kiesling would be replaced by Buddy Parker.
In Buddy Parker's first season as coach the Steelers continued to play inconsistent football, alternating wins, and losses to finish with a 6-6 record. Following the season the Steelers made a big splash by striking a deal for Bobby Layne, who was coming off a season in which he led the Detroit Lions to a NFL Championship.
With new QB Bobby Layne there was an air of optimism surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were seeking to end a quarter century of frustration and win a Division Title. However, Layne struggled early as the Steelers lost 4 of their first 5 games. However they would turn it around, and go unbeaten the rest of the season, but their 7-4-1 record was only good enough for 3rd Place.
The Steelers continue to play inconsistent football alternating wins and losses again, while compiling what had to be considered a disappointing 6-5-1 record.
Over the years the Steelers have had many frustrating seasons where they were never in the race for a playoff spot. However, they could not be classified as perennial losers since they always managed to be in the middle of the pact. However, if a term could be used for the Steelers it is that they were in a consistent state of mediocrity and inconsistency. The 60's did not start out any differently as they continued to alternate wins and losses on the way to a 5-6-1 record.
The Steelers stumble out of the gate losing their first 4 games. However, they would play solid football over the rest of the season finishing with a 6-4 record, as Bobby Layne and Rudy Bukich split time at Quarterback putting up similar numbers.
The Steelers become one of the last teams to add an insignia to their helmet when they put the steelmark on their yellow helmets. The steelmark, which is used by US Steel, is only place on one side of the helmet since the team is unsure how it would look. Through the first 8 games the Steelers continue to alternate wins and losses. This time the Steelers would end the season on a strong note by winning 5 of their last 6 for a 9-5 record that earned them 2nd Place. Back then the 2 runner-ups would play in what was called the runner up bowl, and in that game the Steelers shifted to a black helmet keeping the Steelmark logo on just one side.
With the departure of QB Bobby Layne, Ed Brown fills in and has a terrific season passing for 2,982 yards, while connecting on 21 TD passes. However, the Steelers are never quite in the race as they finish in the middle of the pack with a 7-4-3 record.
After 5 season of splitting their games between Forbes Field, and Pitt Stadium, the Steelers shift to play all their games at Pitt Stadium. Meanwhile, the Steelers go from mediocre to bad losing 4 in a row after a 3-3 start. They would go on to finish by splitting their final 4 games to finish with a 5-9 record. Following the season Coach Buddy Parkers is fired and replaced by Mike Nixon.
Under new coach Mike Nixon the Steelers stumble out of the gate losing their first 5 games, on the way to a miserable 2-12 season in which they allow 397 points on the season. Following the season Nixon is ousted after just 1 year. He would be replaced by Mike Austin.
Coach Mike Austin's tenure begins a solid note as the Steelers go unbeaten in their first 2 games. However, they would lose their next 5 games on the way to another poor 5-8-1 season, as they went through 4 Quarterbacks.
The Steelers continue to struggle at the Quarterback positions as Kent Nix and Bill Nelsen combine for 28 Interceptions in a miserable 4-9-1 season in which they finish in last place.
The Steelers continue to play miserable football losing their first 6 games on the way to an awful 2-11-1 season in which their defense allowed a league worst 397 points. Following the season Coach Mike Austin is fired and replaced by Chuck Noll.
New Coach Chuck Noll's first move is to rebuild the defense as he selects DT Mean Joe Greene with first choice in the draft. The Steelers would win their first game of the season by beating the Detroit Lions 16-13 at Pitt Stadium. However, the win would stand alone all season as the Steelers lost all 13 of their remaining games. However, not all news was grim as DT Mean Joe Greene won the Defensive Rookie of the year despite being on a team that allowed 404 points.
The Steelers began a new decade in a new Conference and a new stadium with a new QB. After nearly 40 years in the NFL in which they only played in 1 playoff game the Steelers, are among 3 teams shifted to the AFC, to complete the merger between the NFL and AFL. That year the Steelers had the first over pick and selected QB Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw was made the starter right away as the Steelers lost to the Houston Oilers 19-7 in the first game ever at Three Rivers Stadium. The rest of the season did not go much better as the Steelers finished with a 5-9 record, while Bradshaw had an awful rookie season throwing 24 interceptions to just 6 TD passes. Long suffering Steelers fans thought they had another bust on their hands, as Bradshaw was labeled a dumb hick by the media.
Terry Bradshaw continues to struggle with turnovers in his 2nd season throwing 22 interceptions to 13 TD passes. However, the Steelers show improvement finishing in 2nd Place with a 6-8 record.
After a typical 2-2 start the Steelers start to play championship football as Offensive Rookie of the Year RB Franco Harris give the offense the spark it needs during a 5 game winning streak. This time there was no coming back to earth as the Steelers went on to win another 4 in a row after a 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns in week 10. With Harris rushing for 1,055 yards the Steelers were able to end 4 decades of frustration by winning the AFC Central with an 11-3 record. On December 23rd the city of Pittsburgh was all a buzz as the hosted the Oakland Raiders in the Divisional Playoffs. The game was a defense struggle all day as the Steelers held a tenuous 6-0 lead late into the 4th Quarter. However, with 1:13 left in the game Raiders QB Kenny Stabler seemed to have taken the game away with a 30-yard TD run. The Steelers would get the ball to their own 40-yard line, but with 22 seconds left they needed a miracle facing 4th down and 10. Terry Bradshaw was able to get rid of the ball just before being hit, as his pass sailed to John Fuqua Raiders DB Jack Tatum knocked the ball away. However, out of no where Franco Harris caught the ball a few inches form the ground, and raced up the field untouched for a TD to give the Steelers a 13-7 win. The play, which would become known, as "The Immaculate Reception" would be viewed as the turning point for the franchise. In the AFC Championship game the Steelers out played the undefeated Miami Dolphins most of the first half establishing a 10-7 lead at Three Rivers. However, the game turned on a trick play by Dolphins punter Larry Sieple, as the Dolphins stayed perfect with a 21-17 win. However, despite the Championship Game loss the Steelers had turned the corner.
The Steelers seized the momentum for the "Immaculate Reception", and got off to a terrific start winning 8 of their first 9 games. However, a costly 3 game losing streak would put their playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Steelers would recover to win their last 2 games, but had to settle for a Wild Card berth with a 10-4 record. The Steelers would get bounced in the Playoff right away losing to the Raiders 33-14 in Oakland.
The Steelers seeking to round out there team had one of the greatest drafts in NFL history selecting 4 Hall of Famers. To complete the Steel Curtain the Steelers select LB Jack Lambert, to strengthen the offensive line the selected C Mike Webster, and to give the team a deep threat they drafted a pair of receivers in Lynn Swann and John Stallworth to give the offense another dimension. Despite the new weapons QB Terry Bradshaw struggled early as was benched in favor of John Gilliam. However, Gilliam did not do much better, and by the end of the season Bradshaw had earned his job back. Despite the Quarterback inconsistency the Steelers would capture the AFC Central with a 10-3-1 record, as the Steel Curtain defense, led by Defensive Player of the Year Mean Joe Greene, began to dominate the NFL. In the Divisional Playoffs the Steelers completely shut down O.J. Simpson on the way to beating the Buffalo Bills 32-14. In the Championship Game the Steelers continued to dominate beating the Raiders 24-13 in Oakland to earn a trip to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl IX
The Steelers met the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl on cold, damp, and windy day in New Orleans. The first half was a completely defensive struggle as the only points scored came when Dwight White took down Vikings QB in the endzone for a safety. The Steelers caught a break right away after halftime when they recovered a fumble on the Vikings 33-yard line. Franco Harris would collect all 33 yards on 3 straight handoffs to give the Steelers a 9-0 lead. In the 4th Quarter the Steelers defense continued to dominate, although the Vikings got on the board when they blocked Bobby Walden's punt, and recovered it in the endzone. After the Vikings missed the PAT the Steelers put the game away driving 66 yards on 11 plays to seal the 16-6 victory, as Franco Harris was named the game's MVP. Following the game a choked up Art Rooney received the Lombardi Trophy, after 40 years of frustration.
The Steel curtain defense continued to dominate allowing just 167 points, as CB Mel Blount became the 2nd straight Steelers to capture Defensive Player of the Year honors. Meanwhile on offense Terry Bradshaw had his finest season to date by passing for 2,055 yards while connecting on 18 TD passes to just 9 interceptions, as the Steelers captured the AFC Central for the 3rd time in 4 years with a 12-2 record that was highlighted by a dominant 11-game winning streak. In the Divisional Playoffs at Three Rivers the Steelers overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit and beat the Baltimore Colts going away 28-10. In the AFC Championship the Steelers faced the Oakland Raiders on brutally cold and windy day with periodical snow flurries. The game would tune into a turnover filled defensive struggle, as Jack Lambert caused 3 fumbles to give the Steelers a16-0 lead in the 4th Quarter. However, the Steelers turned the ball over 3 times in the final 5 minutes to get the Raiders back into the game at 16-10. Things were thrown into further peril when the Raiders recovered an on-side-kick. However, the Steelers defense would toughen up and time would run out preserving the 16-10 win.
Super Bowl X
In the Super Bowl for the 2nd year in a row the Steelers were matched up against the Dallas Cowboys in Miami. Heading into the 4th Quarter the game was a defensive struggle as the Cowboys had a 10-7. However, the game turned Reggie Harrison blocked a Dallas punt through the endzone. On the ensuing possession the Steelers would take a 12-10 lead on a 36-yard Roy Garella FG. Garella would add another Field Goal just 2 minutes later after Cowboys turnover. The Steelers would strike again on their next possession when Terry Bradshaw hit Lynn Swann on a 64-yard TD pass. However, the Cowboys grabbed momentum back when Garella missed the extra point. The Cowboys would strike quickly to get back in the game at 21-17. After the Steelers recovered an on-side-kick, the Cowboys got the ball back on their own 39 when the Steelers offense playing without Bradshaw who was knocked out on the TD pass to Swann failed to get a first down. However, when need the Steel curtain came crashing down on Dallas as Glen Edwards picked off desperation pass. Lynn Swann who set a Super Bowl record by collecting 161 receiving yards on 4 acrobatic catches was named the game's MVP, after most thought he would not play after suffering a concussion in the AFC Championship Game.
Playing a tough early schedule the Steelers get off to a rough start losing 4 of their first 5 games. However, down the stretch the Steel curtain defense firmly established itself as the greatest defensive unit of all time during an incredible season ending 9-game winning streak in which they allowed opponents 7 or less points 8 times, including 4 shutouts. Highlighting this run, which helped earn LB Jack Lambert Defensive Player of the Year, were 3 shutouts in a row. Making the 3 straight shutouts more impressive were the week prior and the week following they only allowed just 9 total points. In total during the 9 games winning streak the Steel curtain smothered the other teams allowing just 28 points. In total they allowed 138 points on the season compiling a 10-4 record to capture the AFC Central for the 4th time in 5 years. In the playoff the Steelers continued their domination beating the Colts 40-14 in Baltimore. However, both Franco Harris, and Rocky Bleier who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark during the season were injured and unable to play in the AFC Championship Game. Without Harris and Bleier the Steelers offense drifted as their Championship reign ended with a 24-7 loss to the Raiders in Oakland.
The Steelers never quite seemed as sharp as usual sure they won the AFC Central again with a 9-5 record, but they had a hard time doing it, and for most of the season their record hovered around .500. Even the Steel curtain seemed to have a little wear and tear allowing 243 points on the season, more then 100 more then the previous season. There lackluster play would catch up with them in the Divisional Playoffs when they are knocked off by the Broncos 34-21 in Denver.
A greater commitment to the passing game proved to be the spark the Steelers need as Terry Bradshaw has his finest season, winning the NFL while passing for 2,915 yards while connecting on 28 TD passes. The Steel curtain would respond too allowing just 195 points, as the Steelers won the AFC Central again with an impressive 14-2 record. The Steelers dominance continued into the playoff where they beat the Denver Broncos 33-10 at Three Rivers Stadium. A week later in the AFC Championship Game the victims were the Houston Oilers who were utterly destroyed in a dominant 34-5 win at the confluence.
Super Bowl XIII
After a 2-year absence the Steelers were back in the Super Bowl facing the Dallas Cowboys in a rematch in Miami. Unlike the first match up when the defense ruled, this game was about offense as the Steelers out slugged the Cowboys 21-14 in the first half. After the Cowboys scored a FG in the 3rd Quarter the Steelers seemed to put the game away in the 4th Quarter when they scored 2 Touchdowns in 19 seconds. However, the Cowboys would make a furious comeback score 2 TDs in the final 3 minutes. However, with 22 seconds left the Steelers recovered an on side kick to seal a 35-31 victory, that mad them the first team ever to win 3 Lombardi Trophies. Terry Bradshaw was named the game's MVP by passing for 318 yards.
Times could not be better for sports fans in Pittsburgh as The Pirates were on the way to winning the World Series, the Steelers began defense of their Super Bowl Championship. With Terry Bradshaw passing for 3,724 yards the Steelers won their 6th straight, and 8th Division title in 9 years by posting a solid 12-4 record. This time it was the offense that drove the Steelers furnace as the team scored 416 points on the season, while the defense allowed 226. In the Playoffs the Steelers continued to roll beating the Miami Dolphins 34-14 in the Divisional Playoffs at Three Rivers Stadium. In the AFC Championship Game the Steelers found themselves in a tight game with Houston Oilers. In the 3rd Quarter it appeared the Oilers shad actually tied the game but a TD catch was ruled out of bounds, as the Steelers stayed out in front before pulling away with a 27-13 victory.
Super Bowl XIV
Even though they were essentially the road team playing the Ls Angeles Rams in the LA suburb of Pasadena the Steelers were a heavy favorite to win the 4th Super Bowl in 6 years. Playing before the largest crowd in Super Bowl history the Steelers actually found themselves down 19-17 entering the 4th Quarter. This could have been worse as the Rams missed 2 PATs, while outplaying the Steelers through the first 45 minutes. On the first possession of the 4th Quarter the Steelers finally grabbed control of the game when Terry Bradshaw hit John Stallworth on a 73-yard TD pass to give the Steelers a lead. The Steel curtain would close on the Rams as the Steelers scored late in the 4th to seal a 31-19 victory that cemented them as the team of the decade. Terry Bradshaw who passed for 309 yards became the first player ever to win 2Super Bowl MVP awards while the Steelers became the first team with 4 Lombardi Trophies.
The Steelers started off the 80's on the right note by winning 4 of their first 5 games. However the Steel Curtain began to show some wear as they lost 3 in a row. In the 2nd half the Steelers would not fair much better playing mediocre football as they lost their grip on the division title and missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
The Steelers continued to fade playing mediocre football all season before finishing out of the playoffs again with an 8-8 record. Following the season the great players that were the core of the Super bowl teams began retiring as Mean Joe Greene called it a career.
In a season in which they celebrated their 50th Anniversary the Steelers show flashes of their former glory in a strike-interrupted season in which they made the playoffs with a 6-3 record. However, their season ended quickly with a 31-28 loss to the San Diego Chargers at Three Rivers Stadium. Following the season, the Steelers super Bowl team continued to go its separate ways as Lynn Swann, and Jack Ham ended their Steelers careers.
Injuries limited Terry Bradshaw to just 8 pass attempts, as the great Steelers QB career ended due to an arm injury. However, with back up Cliff Stoudt passing for 2,553 yards the Steelers continue to be a playoff contender by willing 9 of their first 11 games. However, the Steelers would enter the playoffs in bad shape as they lost 5 of their final 6 games. Despite the struggles the Steelers still won the AFC Central with a 10-6 record. However, in the playoffs the struggle would catch up to them, as they were thrashed 38-10 by the Raiders in Los Angeles. Following the season Franco Harris Steelers came to an end when he was acquired by the Seattle Seahawks.
With most of the stars form the 70's departed; the Steelers were set to begin rebuilding. However, the Steelers showed signs of their past glory in amassing a 9-7 record to capture the AFC Central Title again. The highlight of the season was an October 14th win over the 49ers in San Francisco. It was the only loss the 49ers suffered all season. Also serving up highlights that season was WR Louis Lipps who won the Offensive Rookie of the Year. In the playoffs the Steelers stunned the Broncos 24-17 in Denver to earn a trip to the AFC Championship. However, the Steelers season would end with a 45-28 thrashing at the hands of the Dolphins in Miami.
The Steelers challenge for the AFC Central most of the season sitting at 7-5, through the first 12 games. However, a season ending 4 game losing streak would end both their division title and playoff hopes, as they finished with a 7-9 record, their first season with a losing record in 14 years.
With all but a few players from the glory days departed, the Steelers were a shell of their former glory struggling all season on the way to a terrible 6-10 record.
After splitting their first 2 games the Steelers represents perform well and keep their playoff alive by winning 2 of their 3 games. However, the regulars returned and played mediocre football, on the way to an 8-7 record. As the Steelers lost their last 2 games fans came to Three Rivers Stadium asking Santa for a new quarterback, after Mark Malone had a miserable season throwing 19 interceptions to just 6 TD passes.
Just 10 days before the start of the season the Steelers lose their patriarch with the passing of Art Rooney. The benevolent Rooney had owned the Steelers since the start in 1933; along the way he suffered through 40 years of losing, before glory in the 70's with 4 Super Bowl Championships. His son Dan who had been with team since 1955 would take over the day-to-day operations. The Steelers began the season on a positive note beating the Dallas Cowboys 24-21 at Three Rivers. However, the Steelers would 6 in a row, and 10 of 11 games on the way to a last place season. However, the Steelers would end the season on strong note by winning 3 of their last 4 games to finish with a 5-11 record. Following the season Center Mike Webster the last holdover form the Super Bowl glory years was released.
The Steelers get off to a miserable start losing their first 2 games by a combined 92-10 score. However, the Steelers would recover, and would hover around .500 all season before winning their final 3 games of the season to finish with a 9-7 record, which was good enough for a Wild Card spot. In the Wild Card game at Houston the Steelers stunned the Oilers with a 26-23 win in overtime over the Oilers. A week later the Steelers were on the verge of another stunning win in Denver in the Divisional Playoffs. However, John Elway would lead the Broncos to a last minute 24-23 comeback win.
The Steelers continued to show improvement overcoming a 1-3 start to find themselves in a showdown with the Oilers in Houston for the AFC's final playoff spot in the final game of the season. However, the Steelers are never in the game as the Oilers thrash the Steelers 34-14 ending their season without the playoffs.
The Steelers struggle early as Neil O'Donnell takes over from a struggling Bubby Brister at Quarterback. The Steelers would end the season on a strong note winning their last 2 games 17-10 over the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns at Three Rivers Stadium to finish with a 7-9 record. Following the season Coach Chuck Noll would announce his retirement ending his successful 23-year career in which he won 4 Super Bowls while posting an overall record of 209-156-1.
A new era began as Bill Cowher made his coaching debut a success as the Steelers won their first 3 games on the way to claiming the AFC Central Title for the first time in 8 years with an impressive 11-5 record. However, the Steelers season would end quickly with a disappointing 24-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Three Rivers Stadium in the Divisional Playoffs.
The Steelers get off to a good start again winning 6 of their first 9 games. However, after the Steelers lost 4 of their next 6 games they needed to win and get help just to get the 6th and final seed in the playoffs. The Steelers did their part by beating the Cleveland Browns 16-9. They would get their help as the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets each lost allowing the Steelers to make the playoffs with a 9-7 record. In the 3-6 game the Steelers held a lead late in the 4th Quarter in Kansas City against the Chiefs. However, the Chiefs would rally to send the game to overtime where the Chiefs broke the Steelers heart with a 27-24 win.
After splitting their first 4 games the Steelers catch fire and tear through the entire AFC winning 10 of their next 11 games on the way to capturing the AFC Central and Home Field Advantage with a 12-4 record. Along the way was a tough defense reminiscent of the Steel Curtain that allowed just 234 points, while earning the nick of Biltzburgh for the number of times they blitzed, led by Kevin Greene who collected 14 sacks on the season. In the playoffs the Steelers continued to dominate beating the Cleveland Browns 29-9 to advance to the AFC Championship. With a trip p the Super Bowl on the line the Steelers dominated the San Diego Chargers all game on rainy day at Three Rivers. However, they could not put them away, and the Chargers would make a comeback scoring a TD in the final minutes of the 4th Quarter to take a 17-13 lead. The Steelers would have one chance to take back the lead and got to the foot of the goal line, but their hopes would end when Neil O'Donnell's 4th Down pass was deflected away in the endzone.
The Steelers stumble out of the gate trying to overcome the loss of RB Barry Foster, and the injury of CB Rod Woodson. Through the first 7 games the Steelers were muddling along sitting at 3-4. However, rookie QB Kordell Stewart would add a spark to the offense and which helped sparked the entire team on to an 8-game winning streak. The rookie QB would provide the spark in the most unique way lining up at halfback, and receiver as well as Quarterback Kordell Stewart earned the nickname slash and became the most dangerous player on the field. The Steelers would go on to finish with an 11-5 record, to capture the AFC Central Title. In the playoffs the Steelers continued to roll destroying the Buffalo Bills 40-21 at Three River Stadium. In the AFC Championship Game the Steelers faced the surprising Indianapolis Colts on a balmy day in Pittsburgh. Like the previous year the Steelers held the lead all game but just could not pull away. Leading 20-16 in the final seconds it almost caught up with them again as Jim Harbaugh's desperation pass bounced in and out of a Colts receivers hands in the endzone. The Steelers finally were heading to their 5th Super Bowl, but the ending made it more of a sense of relief then a sense of victory.
Super Bowl XXX
Back in the Super Bowl for the first time in 16 years the Steelers faced the Dallas Cowboys for the 3rd time. However, unlike the first 2, which the Steelers won in Miami, this game would be played in Tempe, and it would not be the Steelers day. Heading into the 4th Quarter the Steelers found themselves down 20-7 as QB Neil O'Donnell was having a miserable game. However the Steelers suddenly got back in the game when the recovered an on-side-kick after kicking a FG early in the 4th Quarter. The Steelers would drive down the field and would get to with in 3 points on a Bam Morris TD run. The Steelers defense would shut down the Cowboys and had a chance to take the lead or tie the game, as they were driving into Dallas territory. However, O'Donnell was picked off for the 3rd time in the game, and the Cowboys would go on to salt the game away 27-17. Following the game Neil O'Donnell who was viewed as the goat was allowed to walk away and sign a Free Agent deal with New York Jets.
To help compensate for the loss of Neil O'Donnell the Steelers strengthened their running game by acquiring Jerome Bettis from the St. Louis Rams. The Steelers offense would hop on the bus as he gained 1,431 yards, while the Steelers got off to a terrific 9-3 start to capture the AFC Central for the 3rd year in a row. However, losses in their final 3 games cost them a playoff bye as the Steelers finished with a 10-6 record. In the Wild Card round the Steelers made quick work of the Indianapolis Colts crushing them 42-14 at Three Rivers Stadium However, their season would end a week later with a 28-3 loss to the Patriots on a foggy day in New England.
After 2 season of being the all everything slash Kordell Stewart was given the reigns of starting Quarterback. Stewart would prove himself right away passing for 3,020 yards while connecting on 21 TD passes. In addition he was still a dangerous runner scoring 11 TDs with his legs while rushing for 476 yards. Only Jerome Bettis with 1,665 had more yards on the ground, as the Steelers won the AFC Central for the 4th year in a row with an 11-5 record. However, in the Divisional Playoff Kordell Stewart struggled mightily as the Steelers defense saved the day in a 7-6 squeaker over the New England Patriots at Three River Stadium. However, a week later there would be no saving the Steelers who were beaten 24-21 by the Denver Broncos in Three Rivers Stadium.
Despite early struggles from Kordell Stewart the Steelers were right in the middle of the playoff race sitting with a 70-4 record. However, Stewart's struggle would catch up with the Steelers, as turnovers seemed to cost the Steelers every week in a season ending 5-game losing streak that dropped the Steelers out of the playoffs with a 7-9 record.
Kordell Stewart continued to struggle with turnovers as he was benched in favor of Mike Tomczak. However Tomczak did not play much better as the Steelers won just 1 of their final 8 games on the way to a terrible 6-10 record.
The Steelers started their final season at Three Rivers Stadium on the wrong foot by losing their first 3 games. However, Kordell Stewart would start overcoming his struggles as the Steelers won their next 5. However, an ensuing 3 game losing streak would virtually end their playoff chances. The Steelers would go on to win 3 of their last 4 games to finish with a 9-7 record but it was not good enough for the playoffs, as the Steelers closed out Three Rivers with a 24-3 win over the Washington Redskins.
The Steelers spilt their first 2 games as the September 11th terrorist attacks postponed their first game at Heinz Field. On October 7th the Steelers finally played their first official game at Heinz Field and beat the Cincinnati Bengals 16-7. Led by an improved defense highlighted by Defensive Rookie of the Year Kendrell Bell the Steelers got off to a terrific start as they won 9 of their first 11 games. However, an injury to Jerome Bettis threatened to derail the Steelers, as he missed the final 5 games of the season. Luckily for the Steelers Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala filled in well as the Steelers stayed on course winning 4 of their final 5 to win the AFC Central and Home Field Advantage with a 13-3 record. In the Divisional Playoff the Steelers were forced to play without Bettis again, but the defense stepped up and created their own offense in a 27-10 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The Bus would return for the AFC Championship Game, but the Steelers would develop a flat tire, making several special teams mistakes on the way to a heartbreaking 24-17 loss to the New England Patriots.
The Steelers stumbled out of the gate being blown out in their first 2 games in primetime against the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders by a combined score of 60-31. After a bye week the Steelers continued to struggle, as they need overtime to beat the Cleveland Browns, as backup QB Tommy Maddox came on to rally the Steelers after Kordell Stewart continued to struggle. A week later Maddox would be named the starter making his first NFL start in a decade. Although Maddox would lose his first start to the New Orleans Saints he soon would become the Comeback story of the year. In the 10 years since his last start Tommy Maddox had retired completely from football before making a comeback in the Arena League and winning the only MVP award in the wretched XFL. Maddox would lead the Steelers to 4 straight wins as they overcame their slow start to reclaim first place in the newly formed AFC North. Maddox would continue to impress as he battled Atlanta Falcons superstar QB Michael Vick to a 34-34 stalemate. However on November 17th on the road disaster struck as Maddox was taken off the field with numbness throughout his body after being hit by Keith Bulluck in a 31-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Tommy Maddox would not be kept down he would overcome his temporary paralysis, and return after just 2 weeks, in which Kordell Stewart led the Steelers to 2 straight wins. Maddox may have returned to early as he had 2 interceptions returned for TDs in a stunning 24-6 loss to the Houston Texans at home. Maddox would recover though and lead the Steelers to 3 straight wins to clinch the division title with a record of 10-5-1. In the playoffs against the Cleveland Browns the Steelers looked to be heading for a disappointing loss trailing 33-21 with less then 5 minutes left. However the comeback kid would strike again as Tommy Maddox led the Steelers down the field twice to give the Steelers a dramatic 36-33 comeback win. The win would send back to Tennessee where Tommy Maddox was nearly paralyzed 2 months earlier. This time around the Steelers and Titans would battle in a classic back and forth battle that went to overtime tied at 31. The Titans would take the first possession in OT and setup for a game winning Field Goal, which Joe Nedney nailed. However the Steelers had called timeout and it would not count. On his second try from 31 yards Nedney would miss. However the Steelers would take a controversial running into the kicker penalty giving Nedney a 3rd chance which he hit from 26 yards to win the game for the Titans 34-31.
The Steelers began the season in style with an impressive 34-15 win over the Baltimore Ravens at home; as Tommy Maddox had 3 Touchdown passes. However, it would be the best game Maddox would have all season as he played mediocre football all season throwing just 18 TDs against 17 interceptions for the entire season. While Jerome Bettis only rushed for 811 yards as he had a diminished role in the offense. On defense the Steelers secondary was the weakness as they allowed big passing games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, and St. Louis Rams early in the season while they got off to a disappointing 2-6 start. The Steelers would not recover from their poor first half as they went on to finish with a disappointing 6-10 record.
The Steelers got the season off to a good start with a dramatic last minute 24-21 win over the Oakland Raiders. A week later the Steelers were soundly beaten by the Baltimore Ravens 30-13 as QB Tommy Maddox was lost to an elbow injury. The elbow injury forced Rookie Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers 1st Round Draft Pick into action. A week later playing in the wake of a Hurricane Roethlisberger got his first start leading the Steelers to a 13-3 win over the Miami Dolphins. Big Ben would not show any rookie nervousness as he soon became a Pittsburgh sensation leading the Steelers to consecutive home wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, before beating the Dallas Cowboys on the road. Coming off their bye week Roethlisberger and the Steelers continued to roll ending the New England Patriots record 21-game winning streak with an impressive 34-20 win on Halloween. A week later facing the NFL's lone remaining unbeaten team the Steelers beat the Philadelphia Eagles27-3, as Ben Roethlisberger the QB of the future continued to make the future now. The Steelers would continue to win week in and week out as they would not lose another game in the regular season winning their last 14 games to finish with a NFL best 15-1 record, as Ben Roethlisberger with a 98.1 QB rating and 17 TDs was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, while veteran Jerome Bettis showed the Bus had plenty left in the tank with a career best 13 Touchdowns, as the Steelers had the top rated defense in the NFL. Hoping to avoid a playoff let down the Steelers faced the New York Jets in the Divisional Playoffs. However, in his first playoff game Ben Roethlisberger was shaky having an interception returned for a Touchdown in the 3rd Quarter. The Steelers would rally to tie the game, but need to dodge a bullet when Jets FG Doug Brien missed two Field Goals in the final minute, one coming after a Roethlisberger had another pass picked off. In overtime after stopping the Jets on their first possession the Steelers drove down the field to set up Jeff Reed up for the game winning 33-yard Field goal as the Steelers moved on to the AFC Championship Game with a 20-17 win. In the AFC Championship the Steelers faced the Patriots again. However, this time it would be different as the Pats jumped out to a big lead and never looked back beating the Steelers 41-27 to earn a trip to Super Bowl XXXIX.
Coming off a 15-1 regular season the Steelers had plenty of reason for optimism, as Ben Roethlisberger looked to show his rookie season was not a fluke. In the season opener against the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers won easily 34-7 as Roethlisberger threw two Touchdown passes, while passing for 218 yards, while second year RB Willie Parker had a breakout performance rushing for 161 yards. Following an easy win against the Houston Texans, the Steelers face an early test against the New England Patriots, and came up short as the defending champions beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh again 23-20. The following week, the Steelers showed some of their grit and tenacity in a Monday Night Road Showdown with the San Diego Chargers, as Jerome Bettis saw his first action of the season scoring a TD, while Ben Roethlisberger playing on a sprained knee put the Steelers in position for a 40-yard Field Goal by Jeff Reed as time expired in a 24-22 win. Playing without Big Ben the following week the Steelers would be stunned in overtime as backup QB Tommy Maddox had his pass intercepted and returned 41 yards for Touchdown in a 23-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Roethlisberger would return and lead the Steelers to wins in the next two games, but the knee became too painful and he was forced to have arthroscopic surgery and miss a month. This time the Steelers turned to Charlie Batch and the Steelers continued to win, as Batch led the way in wins over the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns as the Steelers were sitting at 7-2. However, Batch himself would suffer an injury forcing the Steelers to go back to Maddox who struggled again in 16-13 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Ben Roethlisberger would return for a Monday Night Showdown with the Indianapolis Colts, but was clearly off as the Colts won going away 26-7. The following week the struggles would continue for the Steelers as they lost a shoot out with the Cincinnati Bengals at home 38-31, despite 386 yards passing from Roethlisberger. At 7-5 the Steelers found their playoff hopes in jeopardy as they faced a Chicago Bears team on an 8-game winning streak. The Steelers would win the game 21-9 as Jerome Bettis had perhaps his best game of the season with 101 yards rushing and 2 TDs. The win got the Steelers back on track as they would not lose again, winning their final 4 games to squeeze into the playoffs as the 6th seed with an 11-5 record.
In the playoffs the Steelers would face the Cincinnati Bengals again, and would get an early break as Kimo von Oelhoffen inadvertently injured Bengals QB Carson Palmer on the first series of the game. Despite the loss of Palmer the Bengals got off to a fast start leading 10-0 after the 1st Quarter and 17-7 midway through the second. However, the Steelers defense would stiffen and not allow another point as they pulled to with a field goal on a short TD pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Hines Ward. In the second half it was all Steelers a Jerome Bettis put them ahead on a 5-yard run in the 3rd Quarter, which was followed up by a Roethlisberger to Cedric Wilson 43-yard TD score, as the Steelers won 31-17. Facing the Indianapolis Colts the Steelers were not given a chance to make the AFC Championship Game, as the Colts were simply dominant all year at 14-2 while beating the Steelers easily in November. However, things would be different from the start of the game as they drove up the field methodically on the first possession for a TD. After stopping the Colts on their first series the Steelers quickly got the ball back and had another long TD drive to take an early 14-0 lead. As the Steelers defense shutdown Peyton Manning the Steelers would extend the lead late in the 3rd Quarter to 21-3 as Bettis scored on short yardage near the goal line. In the 4th Quarter, the Colts offense would come alive as they scored 15-unaswered points and were with a field goal late in the game. Looking to hold on the Steelers defense again swarmed Manning and sacked him twice; including at the Colts own 2 yard line on 4th down with less than 2 minutes left. With 1:20 left and the ball on the Colts 2 all the Steelers had to do was run out the clock to win the game, putting the ball in the hands of Jerome Bettis the Steelers saw their lives suddenly flash before their lives as the Bus fumbled, and Nick Harper looked to be on his way of running coast to coast with the for a game winning TD. However, the last man to beat Ben Roethlisberger got just enough of Harper's leg to bring him down near midfield. The Colts would get in field goal range, but would see Mike Vanderjagt's 46-yard kick sail wide right as the Steelers held on for a stunning 21-18 win becoming the first 6th seed to make the Conference Championship Game. Facing the Denver Broncos the Steelers again would get off to a fast start as they shutdown the Broncos early and dominated the first half leading 24-3 at halftime. The Broncos would creep back into the game getting within 10 points midway through the 4th Quarter, but the Steelers would prove to be too strong as Ben Roethlisberger put the game away on a 4-yard TD run in a 34-17 to advance to Super Bowl XL.
Super Bowl XL
The feel good story of Super Bowl hype week was the Jerome Bettis who was playing in his final NFL game in his hometown of Detroit, finally reaching the Super Bowl at the end of a 13-year Hall of Fame Career. The Steelers also reversed course a bit deciding to where white despite being the "home team designee" continuing the role from becoming just the second team ever to reach the Super Bowl with three road wins. Early on the game belonged to the Seattle Seahawks as they scored first on a 47-yard field goal and led 3-0 late in the 2nd Quarter. However, with 2 minutes left the Steelers finally broke through as Ben Roethlisberger scored a controversial TD on short yardage at the goal line sneaking the ball just into the endzone, while replays, showed the ball may have not gone over at all. The TD would stand as the Steelers led at halftime 7-3. In the 3rd Quarter the Steelers would not wait long to score again scoring on the 2nd play from scrimmage as Willie Parker raced down the field for a Super Bowl record 75-yard TD run to give the Steelers a 14-3 lead. Heading into the endzone for another score the Steelers suddenly found themselves forced to scramble again as Ben Roethlisberger who struggled all game was intercepted at the Seattle 4 yard line with ball being returned all the way down to the Steelers 20, setting up a Matt Hasslebeck to Jeremy Stevens TD pass to make the score 14-10 at the end of three quarters. As the 4th Quarter began the Seahawks were driving into Steelers territory looking to take the lead, when Ike Taylor picked off Matt Hasslebeck near the endzone and returned to midfield. Following a key 5-yard sneak by Roethlisberger the Steelers looked to trickery to extend their lead back to 11 points as Big Ben gave the ball to Willie Parker who gave the ball to Antwaan Randle-El on a reverse to daze and confuse the Seahawks defense that left Hines Ward all alone to receive a 43-yard TD pass from Randle-El to give the Steelers a 21-10 lead that sent the pro black and gold crowd at Ford Field into a frenzy. From there it was all the Steelers defense as they shut down the Seahawks for a 21-10 win, earning the long anticipated one for the thumb. The game would indeed be the last for Bettis who announced his retirement during the trophy presentation as Hines Ward was named the game's MVP. Courtesy of Sports Ecyclopedia.