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Mar 2019


Steelers March Madness: The Best of the Rest featuring No. 1 Seed 2004 vs. No. 16 Seed 1989

Behind the Steel Curtain

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. The teams from 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005 and 2008 would lead that discussion for winning it all. But what Steeler teams that failed to hoist the Lombardi resonate most with you? As we enter into March Madness, BTSC presents a “Not Sweet Enough 16” over the next month to crown the “Best of the Rest”.

In the play-in contest, the 2015 and the 1989 team that both survived crazy Wild Card games on the road (only to lose in Denver) both advanced. Here are the final tallies.

2015 (10-6) Barely Walking Wounded - 41%

1989 (9-7) From 92-10 to the Playoffs - 34%

2007 (10-6) Tomlin’s First Season - 10%

1982 (6-3) The Strike Year and Bradshaw’s Last Full Season - 9%

1984 (9-7) A 9-7 Team in the AFCCG - 6%

This time around, the top-seeded team from 2004 battles it out with that beloved team from 1989. Be sure to vote for the best and most memorable team below in the poll and share your thoughts in the comments section. Check back to BTSC Monday for the results.


No. 1 Seed: 2004 (15-1)

Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie season saw Bill Cowher’s Steelers post their best regular season record in the team’s history. Ben shattered the NFL record of six wins by a QB to start his NFL career by going 13-0 in the regular season. Besides the mania surrounding the rookie phenom, this was the season that saw the debuts of Duce Staley and Willie Parker in Pittsburgh and the original last days of Plaxico Burress. We also saw James Harrison get to take advantage of a chance when Joey Porter punched William Green in Pregame of a November bout in Cleveland. The highlights of the season included beating undefeated New England (halting their 21-game win-spree) and Philadelphia in back-to-back games in Weeks 8 & 9 respectively. The story ended at home in the AFC Championship Game as New England trounced the Steelers 41-27 and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Pro Bowlers: Jerome Bettis, Alan Faneca, James Farrior, Jeff Hartings, Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith, Marvel Smith, Hines Ward

First-Team All Pros: Alan Faneca, James Farrior, Jeff Hartings, Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith, Marvel Smith, Hines Ward

Second-Team All Pros: Troy Polamalu, Joey Porter, Hines Ward

Team MVP: James Farrior

No. 1 Draft Pick: Ben Roethlisberger

Rookie of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger


No. 16 Seed: 1989 (9-7)

The season started without Mike Webster in a Steeler uniform after 15 seasons. It opened with the worst loss in team history, a 51-10 is drubbing by Cleveland and a 42-10 loss to Cincinnati. In what could be the finest coaching season of his HOF career and his only Coach of the Year campaign, Chuck Noll rallied his team to the final seed and an entry in the AFC Wild game against their fierce rivals, the Houston Oilers. The Steelers came from behind on the last day of the 1980s to force OT and win courtesy of a Gary Anderson FG. The next week in Denver, the Steelers almost pulled off the upset. Leading 23-17 late, Denver scored a TD with 2:22 left to ice it. But Merrill Hoge’s phenomenal post-season and a young, talented defense helped the football world fall in love with the Steelers once more. Leading the way for the Steelers that season were the likes of Hoge, Bubby Brister, Louis Lipps, Tunch Ilkin, Tim Worley, Greg Lloyd, Keith Willis, Rod Woodson and Dwayne Woodruff.

Pro Bowlers: Tunch Ilkin and Rod Woodson

First-Team All Pros: Rod Woodson

Team MVP: Louis Lipps

No. 1 Draft Pick: Tim Worley

Rookie of the Year: Carnell Lake

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