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Steelers by the decade: 2000s

Posted Jul 17, 2014

A decade-by-decade look at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

2000s

After starting the 2000 season with a 0-3 record, the Steelers rebounded to finish the year at 9-7, and barely missed the playoffs.

However, 2000 will be remembered most for being the final season for the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium. The Steelers were 4-4 during their final season at Three Rivers Stadium, including victories in four of their final six home games. The Steelers won their final game at Three Rivers, 24-3, against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 16.

The Steelers finished 31 seasons at Three Rivers Stadium (1970-2000) with a 182-73 home record, including the postseason. The Steelers recorded their largest regular- season home attendance figures (440,428) since 1998 in the final season, including a season-high 58,183 fans during the final game in stadium history.

The Steelers began a new era in team history in 2001 with the opening of their new stadium, Heinz Field. The Steelers posted an AFC-best 13-3 regular-season record, including a 7-1 mark at home, and advanced to the AFC Championship Game.

The inaugural game at Heinz Field was originally scheduled to be a nationally televised Sunday Night game on Sept. 16. However, the September 11 terrorist attacks on America forced the NFL to postpone all games that weekend — which were eventually rescheduled for the end of the season. As a result, the Steelers opened Heinz Field on Sunday, Oct. 7 with a 16-7 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Steelers defeated the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens, 27-10, in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, in the first-ever postseason game played at Heinz Field. However, they suffered a disappointing 24-17 loss at home in the AFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots.

After a 0-2 start in 2002, the Steelers rallied to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season. However, the team’s Super Bowl hopes ended when they lost, 34-31, in overtime to the Tennessee Titans on the road.

The Steelers began the 2003 season with a 34-15 victory against AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens. However, the team never regained that magic and finished the season with a 6-10 record and missed the playoffs for the first time in three years.

The Steelers set a team record in 2004 by becoming the first AFC team to win 15 games (15-1) in the regular season. They ultimately advanced to the AFC Championship Game where they lost to the New England Patriots, 41-27. Nine Steelers were selected to play in the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, the team’s most since the 1979 season.

Pittsburgh found itself sitting at 7-5 after 12 games in 2005, but it rallied to win its final four regular-season games to earn the AFC’s sixth seed in the playoffs. The Steelers then won an unprecedented three straight road playoff games to gain a berth in Super Bowl XL in Detroit versus the Seattle Seahawks.

The Steelers captured their fifth Super Bowl title with a 21-10 victory over the Seahawks as wide receiver Hines Ward was named MVP, finishing with five receptions for 123 yards. Ward also hauled in a game-clinching 43-yard TD pass from Antwaan Randle El on a gadget play midway through the fourth quarter.

The 2006 season saw the Bill Cowher era come to an end with the Steelers finishing the season winning six of their final eight games to post an 8-8 record on the year. On January 5, 2006, Bill Cowher resigned as Steelers head coach with a 161-99-1 overall record, second-best in team history.

The Steelers hired 34-year old Mike Tomlin as the team’s coach. Tomlin was the NFL’s youngest head coach at the time he was hired on Jan. 22, 2007.

Tomlin became the second first-year coach in team history to make the playoffs. The Steelers finished with a 10-6 overall record and won the AFC North division title.

Mike Tomlin became the first coach in franchise history to win a division title in each of his first two seasons when the Steelers captured their second consecutive AFC North division title with a 12-4 record. They went on to defeat the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens to gain a berth in Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida versus the Arizona Cardinals.

The Steelers became the first NFL franchise to capture six Super Bowl titles when they defeated the Cardinals, 27-23. With the victory, Head Coach Mike Tomlin became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl in NFL history. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes was named MVP after hauling in the game-winning six-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger with 35 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Steelers added to their legacy, making it all the way to Super Bowl XLV after a 12-4 record during the 2010 season. The Steelers though could not overcome an early 18-point deficit and fell to the Green Bay Packers 31-25. Despite the loss, the Steelers still hold the NFL record for most Super Bowl victories with six.

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