Hey, remember that time in the mid ’90s when the Browns were good enough to make the playoffs? Me neither!
But guess who their coach was? Bill Belichick!
The Steelers tuned up Belichick’s Browns 29-9 as Neil O’Donnell threw for two scores, to Eric Green and Yancey Thigpen, while Barry Foster rumbled for 133 yards and Bam Morris and John Williams combined for another 103, putting up 424 total yards to the Browns’ 186.
10. San Diego Chargers at Steelers, Jan. 11, 2009
Steelers 35, Chargers 24
The Steelers actually trailed just before halftime of the 2008 Playoff win over San Diego, but things quickly shifted when Willie Parker gave the Steelers the 14-10 lead just before the break. The Steelers scored the next two touchdowns to take a 28-10 lead, then traded scores with the Chargers in the fourth quarter for the 35-24 victory, the first playoff triumph in their most recent Super Bowl-winning campaign. Roethlisberger had modest numbers — 17-for-26 for 181 yards and a score — while Philip Rivers threw for 308 yards and three scores (and one interception).
Willie Parker won the game for Pittsburgh, rushing for 146 yards and two scores on 27 carries, while Santonio Holmes returned a punt 67 yards for another score.
9. Denver Broncos at Steelers, Dec. 30, 1978
Steelers 33, Broncos 10
Franco Harris had 105 yards and two scores on 24 carries, and Terry Bradshaw passed for 272 yards and two scores — one to John Stallworth and the other to Lynn Swann — as Pittsburgh beat up on Denver in the 1978 Divisional round.
Norris Weese led the Broncos in passing in that game, so if you want to impress your Steelers friends this weekend, name drop Norris Weese. Say the Steelers held him to just 118 yards in that playoff game, keeping Denver to just 131 net passing yards — Craig Morton threw for 34 and Bucky Dilts another 16 — keeping the Broncos to 218 total yards. Joe Greene had two sacks in the game.
8. Buffalo Bills at Steelers, Dec. 22, 1974
Steelers 32, Bills 14
All-Pro running back O.J. Simpson was held to just 49 yards, adding 37 and a score receiving, as the Steelers defense held the Bills to just 14 points, pounding them 32-14 en route to the AFC championship.
The Steelers trailed 7-3 after the first quarter, but scored 26 second-quarter points and never looked back. They went on to beat the Raiders the following week, then took out the Vikings in Super Bowl IX, their first Super Bowl victory.
7. Steelers at Baltimore Colts, Dec. 19, 1976
Steelers 40, Colts 14
USA TODAY Sports
The old Steeler teams were really good, weren’t they?
Terry Bradshaw threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns — two to Lynn Swann and one to Frank Lewis — as the Steelers beat up on Bert Jones and the Baltimore Colts 40-14 in Baltimore. Jones was sacked five times and the Steelers forced two turnovers in a game that was so out of hand, Mike Kruczek threw six passes for the Steelers, completing five.
That year’s team lost the following week, however, 24-7 to the Raiders, crushing the dream of back-to-back-to-back titles.
6. Baltimore Colts at Steelers, Dec. 27, 1975
Steelers 28, Colts 10
The 1975 Steelers gave up just 37 points in the playoffs, including 10 to the Baltimore Colts. The Colts had just 72 passing yards all game, yet led the game in the second half. From Steelers.com:
Franco Harris ran for an AFC playoff record at the time of 153 yards, but it was Mel Blount’s interception late in the third quarter that provided the Steelers with the impetus to overcome a 10-7 Baltimore third-quarter lead.
Even though Terry Bradshaw’s tough two-yard run, which capped a 39-yard drive, gave the Steelers an 11-point lead with fewer than 12 minutes to play, the Colts stayed in contention and were threatening.
The Colts, led by Jones, who entered the game at the start of the fourth quarter, had marched to the Steelers’ three-yard line. But the Steelers secured the victory when Jack Ham sacked Jones, forcing a fumble that Andy Russell retrieved and returned 93 yards for an NFL record that still stands today.
5. Miami Dolphins at Steelers, Dec. 30, 1979
Steelers 34, Dolphins 14
The Steelers started their Super Bowl defense in style that postseason, getting out to a 20-0 lead over the Dolphins, as Terry Bradshaw threw TD passes to John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. The Steelers upped their lead to 34-7 in the fourth quarter, holding Bob Grise to just 118 yards passing, while Larry Csonka had just 20 yards rushing, including one score.
Bradshaw was 21-for-31 for 230 yards, while Franco Harris, Sidney Thornton and Rocky Bleier all scored on the ground. Those Steelers went on to beat Houston and Los Angeles the next two games for their second back-to-back Super Bowl run in six years.
4. Baltimore Ravens at Steelers, Jan. 15, 2011
Steelers 31, Ravens 24
The Ravens are the worst, aren’t they?
Baltimore got out to a 21-7 lead over the Steelers in this tilt during the 2010 NFL Playoffs, but Ben Roethisberger threw two third quarter touchdowns to tie the game at 21. Two plays later, Joe Flacco fumbled, giving the Steelers the ball back at the Ravens’ 23 just before the end of the third. Pittsburgh was only able to muster a field goal, and the lead, but two drives later the Ravens tied the game at 24.
The Steelers took the ball and drove the length of the field in just over two minutes, buoyed by a 58-yard toss from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown on a third-and-19 to pull off the win.
Sure, the Steelers needed five chances to score from inside the four-yard line, but score they did, for the 31-24 victory.
3. Steelers at Denver Broncos, Dec. 30, 1984
Steelers 24, Broncos 17
USA TODAY Sports
The 9-7 Steelers went in to Denver to face the 13-3 Broncos at Mile High Stadium in John Elway’s first playoff game. And won.
Elway threw for two scores, but also threw two picks, while Mark Malone threw for 224 yards and a score, but fumbled twice, and Frank Pollard had 99 yards and two touchdowns rushing to overtake the Broncos in the second half. Louis Lipps had 86 yards receiving and the game-tying score in the third quarter, before Pollard’s rush sealed the game after Eric Williams picked Elway off and returned it to the Denver four-yard line.
The Steelers ruined the chance for America to get to see Elway face Dan Marino and the Dolphins in the AFC title game. Miami beat Pittsburgh, then lost to the 49ers in the Super Bowl. But hey … Steelers fans didn’t care about ruining a game we never got to see. They beat John Elway!
2. Steelers at Indianapolis Colts, Jan. 15, 2006
Steelers 21, Colts 18
USA TODAY Sports
Peyton Manning losing in the playoffs back in the day was pretty common, but it was always fun to see. The Steelers beat the Colts at the old RCA Dome in the 2005 Playoffs when Roethlisberger and Co. got out to a 14-0 lead, then held on for dear life as the Colts took a 21-3 deficit and all but erased it.
All but? Yep.
This game had one of the craziest finishes in playoff history. Forced to go on fourth down from his own 16, Manning was sacked at the two yard line. The next play, with the game won, Jerome Bettis fumbled on a hit by Gary Brackett, picked clean by Nick Harper who was on his way for the score and an unbelievable Colts win.
Until Big Ben saved the day … and the season.
Manning moved Indy down the field after that, then settled for a game-tying field goal attempt. Mike Vanderjagt missed the 46-yard attempt, knocking the Colts out of the playoffs and giving Pittsburgh the win. The No. 6-seed Steelers won the following week at Denver, then beat Seattle in the Super Bowl.
1. Oakland Raiders at Steelers, Dec. 23, 1972
Steelers 13, Raiders 7
You might remember this game, yes?
The first playoff win in Steelers’ history didn’t lead to a Super Bowl, but it set the team down a path to win four titles that decade, which seems pretty darn immaculate.