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Steelers playoff fun facts

Posted Jan 11, 2017

Postseason notes, Divisional Round Playoff history and more.

As the Steelers prepare to take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the organization is no stranger to playing in the Divisional Round Playoffs.

The Steelers are 15-9 in the Divisional Round Playoffs, and have had some memorable wins along the way.

The team’s success kicked off with a win in a Divisional Round Game in 1972 against the Oakland Raiders, with a play nobody will ever forget, the Immaculate Reception.

Here is a look at some of those memorable Divisional Round Games.

Steelers 13, Oakland 7 – Dec. 23, 1972
Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler had run 30 yards for a touchdown that gave his team a 7-6 lead with just 1:17 to play in the game. Things weren’t looking good for the Steelers as quarterback Terry Bradshaw and the offense were looking at a fourth-and-10 from the 40-yard line with just 22 seconds remaining. While under pressure, Bradshaw threw the ball in the direction of Frenchy Fuqua and as it arrived he collided with Raiders safety Jack Tatum, and the ball ricocheted back and Franco Harris miraculously scooped it out of the air and took off running for a 60-yard touchdown reception that gave the Steelers the 13-7 win and a wild celebration ensued. And the Immaculate Reception will forever live in Steelers and NFL lore.

Steelers 24, Denver 17 – December 30, 1984
The Steelers got off to a frightening start when quarterback Mark Malone lost two fumbles in the team’s first two possessions. Somehow, though, the team went into halftime with a 10-7 lead in a game in which they were heavy underdogs playing in Denver. In the second half the Broncos blocked a Steelers punt, and Gary Anderson’s third missed field goal of the day had the two teams tied at 17-17 with 3:35 to play. John Elway went to work for the Broncos, but the Steelers would not be denied. Eric Williams intercepted Elway and returned it 28 yards to the Denver two-yard line. Frank Pollard took it in for the two-yard touchdown, and the Steelers won 24-17.

Steelers 21, Indianapolis 18 – January 15, 2006
It was a fantastic finish, albeit one which had all of Steelers Nation holding their breath. In the closing minutes and in need of a big play, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was sacked for a 10-yard loss on fourth down, giving the Steelers the ball at the Colts two-yard line. The game appeared to be over, but not even close. Jerome Bettis did what he never does, fumbled near the goal line when he was hit by Gary Brackett. Nick Harper recovered in stride and looked like he was headed to the opposite end zone, until Ben Roethlisberger, the unlikeliest of heroes, made what would become known as “The Tackle.” Roethlisberger got Harper with the shoestring tackle at the Colts 42-yard line. Manning took control and drove the Colts to the Steelers 28-yard line, where an almost automatic Mike Vanderjagt gave Steelers fans their breath back when his 46-yard field goal went wide right. 

Steelers 31, Baltimore 24 - January 15, 2011
Things looked bleak for the Steelers at halftime when they trailed the Ravens 21-7, but this Steelers team wasn’t about to be denied. James Harrison sacked Joe Flacco on the first play of the Ravens first offensive series in the second half, and two plays later Ryan Clark forced a fumble that LaMarr Woodley recovered to give the Steelers the ball at the 23-yard line. Ben Roethlisberger took advantage, hitting Heath Miller for a nine-yard touchdown to close the gap to 21-14. After exchanging possessions, the Ravens got the ball back and Clark intercepted Flacco and returned it to the 25-yard line. Four plays later Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward for an eight-yard touchdown and a 21-21 tie. The Steelers took their first lead of the game, 24-21, with an early fourth quarter field goal, but the Ravens responded to tie the game at 24-24. The Steelers had the final say, though. A young receiver by the name of Antonio Brown made a name for himself when he made an incredible catch. On third-and-19 Brown came up big with a 58-yard reception, giving the Steelers the ball at the Baltimore four-yard line. On another third down, Rashard Mendenhall scored the game-winning touchdown on a two-yard run for the 31-24 win.

Just the facts: A few quick postseason notes for the Steelers.

- With the win over the Dolphins the Steelers have won 11 of their last 16 postseason games.

- Coach Mike Tomlin is now 7-5 in the postseason.

- Ben Roethlisberger is 12-6 as a starter in the postseason.

- Antonio Brown recorded his first postseason touchdown catch, a 50-yard scoring strike from Ben Roethlisberger, in Sunday’s Wild Card win over the Dolphins. Brown also scored on a 62-yard touchdown pass.

- Le'Veon Bell scored his first postseason touchdown on a one-yard run against the Dolphins. He also added a second touchdown on an eight-yard run.

Been there, done that: The Steelers go into the playoffs with a roster that has been there and done that as far as playing in the postseason.

Ben Roethlisberger leads all players with postseason experience, having played in 18 postseason games in his career. James Harrison has played in 17 total games, 16 with the Steelers plus one with the Cincinnati Bengals, followed by Greg Warren (13), William Gay and Lawrence Timmons (12), Ramon Foster (8), Antonio Brown (7) and Marcus Gilbert, Darrius Heyward-Bey, David Johnson, Mike Mitchell and DeAngelo Williams (5). Heyward-Bey played in four with the Steelers and one with Indianapolis, while Mitchell played in four with the Steelers and one with Carolina. Williams played in one with the Steelers, and the other four were with Carolina.

The team has 11 players who have played in four postseason games, including David DeCastro, Robert Golden, Jarvis Jones, Ricardo Mathews (all with Indianapolis), Daniel McCullers, Arthur Moats, Maurkice Pouncey, Ryan Shazier, Fitzgerald Toussaint (one with Baltimore), Stephon Tuitt and Vince Williams.

Numbers don’t lie:
The Steelers have a strong history in the postseason, and the numbers prove it.

The Steelers are 35-24 all-time in the postseason. The 35 wins are the most postseason wins of any team in NFL history.

The team has 29 playoff berths since the 1970 NFL merger, the most of any other NFL team. The Dallas Cowboys are second to the Steelers with 28.

The Steelers also have won the most division titles of any NFL team, 22, since the 1970 merger. This is the seventh time they have won the AFC North since the divisions were re-aligned in 2002, at which point the Steelers, Bengals, Browns and Ravens were placed in the same division. It’s the fifth time since 2007 that the team has won the AFC North (2007, 2008, 2010, 2014, and 2016). Overall the Steelers have won their division 22 times, capturing the AFC Central (Steelers, Houston Oilers, Bengals, and Browns) 15 times.