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A half-dozen Steelers' playoff comebacks

Seattle made it to Super Bowl XLIX thanks to a comeback against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game that was as unimaginable as it is unforgettable.

The Steelers can relate. They have a few such rallies on their postseason resume.

Among the most memorable:

Dec. 23, 1972: Fourth-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 40-yard line, 22 seconds left, Oakland ahead, 7-6, in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Three Rivers Stadium. Terry Bradshaw fires a desperation heave downfield, Steelers RB John "Frenchy" Fuqua, Raiders DB Jack Tatum and the ball seemingly all arrive at the Oakland 35-YARD LINE simultaneously, and then … "it's caught out of the air, the ball is pulled in by Franco Harris."

You know the rest.

Feb. 1, 2009: After having led the Arizona Cardinals since the early stages of Super Bowl XLIII, the Steelers suddenly found themselves trailing, 23-20, with 2:42 remaining. And after a holding penalty assessed to G Chris Kemoeatu on the first snap of what figured to be a do-or-die final possession, the Steelers found themselves facing a first-and-20 from the Pittsburgh 12-yard line with 2:24 left in regulation.

QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Santonio Holmes took it from there. They hooked up four times for 73 yards on what became the game-winning march, including a 6-yard completion for what became the game-winning touchdown with 35 left in what became a 27-23 triumph.


Jan. 20, 1980: The big plays and the fourth Lombardi won in a six-year span are what resonated most from the Steelers' 31-19 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XIV. But perhaps only die-hard Steelers fans recall that the Rams led, 19-17, entering the fourth quarter.

That changed via a 73-yard touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw to John Stallworth on a third-and-8 from the Pittsburgh 27-yard line with 12:15 left in the quarter.

The Steelers kept that lead thanks to an interception by Jack Lambert at the Pittsburgh 32 with 5:53 to play in the fourth. A 45-yard Bradshaw-to-Stallworth connection helped set up Harris' 1-yard touchdown that served as the exclamation point.

Dec. 31, 1989: A 16-9 fourth-quarter lead had become a 23-16 fourth-quarter deficit, and just 5:16 remained in an AFC Wild Card matchup with the Oilers in Houston. From there the Steelers calmly and relentlessly marched 82 yards for the game-tying touchdown, a 1-yard blast by Merril Hoge, with 46 seconds left in regulation.

That sent the game into overtime, but that didn't look promising initially, as the Steelers took possession first but had to punt and wound up giving the ball back to the Oilers at the Houston 45-yard line. Pittsburgh got the ball right back on the Oilers' first offensive play, when Rod Woodson forced and then recovered a fumble by RB Lorenzo White.

Gary Anderson connected on a 50-yard field goal five plays later to end it in the Steelers' favor, 26-23.

Jan. 5, 2003: An AFC Wild Card hosting of Cleveland appeared lost on a couple of occasions. The Steelers trailed, 24-7, in the third quarter and by separate counts of 27-14 and 33-21 in the fourth quarter. Two touchdowns in the final 3:06 of regulation, including a 3-yard run by RB Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala, delivered resurrection for the Steelers in what became a 36-33 escape.

Jan. 14, 1996: The Colts led, 16-13, with just 3:03 remaining in the AFC Championship Game at Three Rivers Stadium. But QB Neil O'Donnell was able to conjure up a fourth-down, game-saving completion to WR Andre Hastings, and then a 37-yard strike to WR Ernie Mills set up RB Bam Morris' 1-yard touchdown run to put the Steelers ahead, 20-16, with 1:34 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Steelers held on and survived a Jim Harbaugh lob into the end zone to secure a 20-16 victory and advance to Super Bowl XXX.

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