Memorable plays of 2016

The Steelers' run to the AFC Championship Game was filled with defining plays.

Following is a list detailing 10 of the most memorable:


Dec. 25 _ Steelers 31, Ravens 27: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's pass to wide receiver Antonio Brown on second-and-goal from the Ravens' 4-yard line with the Steelers trailing, 27-24, and 13 seconds remaining in regulation was caught short of the goal line. Brown was met at the 1 almost immediately by safety Eric Weddle and linebacker C.J. Mosley but was somehow still able to extend the ball with his left arm and break the plane for the touchdown that delivered the AFC North Division championship. Had Brown been stopped, there wouldn't have been time for a third-and-goal attempt. Merry Christmas.


Nov. 13 _ Cowboys 35, Steelers 30: Fighting the Cowboys and the clock in the final minute, Roethlisberger hit tight end Jesse James for 24 yards to the Dallas 15. But rather than opt for the clock-stopping play everyone thought was coming, Roethlisberger faked a spike and then hit Brown for a 15-yard touchdown that gave the Steelers a 30-29 lead with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter. They'd have written songs about Roethlisberger's orchestration of a five-play, 75-yard march in 1:13 had the Steelers only hung on to win the game.


Jan. 15 _ Steelers 18, Chiefs 16: The Steelers led, 18-16, with two minutes left but faced a third-and-3 from their 12 with two minutes left. The Chiefs were out of timeouts but rather than run the ball and run the clock, the Steelers went for the jugular. Risking an incompletion and a potnetial opportunity for the Chiefs to get the ball back and kick a game-winning field goal, Roethlisberger hit Brown for 7 yards and a first down and the Steelers were on their way to New England.


Dec. 4 _ Steelers 24, Giants 14: The Steelers led, 5-0, but the Giants were threatening on second-and-4 from the Steelers' 9 midway through the second quarter. Linebacker Ryan Shazier helped turn New York away with an interception at the 2 and a return of 58 yards to the Giants' 40. It was the type of play that revealed the teeth the Steelers' defense was becoming capable of unleashing.


Dec. 18 _ Steelers 24, Bengals 20: Trailing, 20-18, and facing a ticking fourth-quarter clock in Cincinnati, Roethlisberger found wide receiver Eli Rogers between cornerback Josh Shaw and safety George Iloka at the 1, and Rogers fell into the end zone for a 24-yard score. Who Dey? In this instance, a franchise QB and a second-year slot receiver who grew through much of the season.


Jan. 1 _ Steelers 27, Browns 24 (OT): Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun was on the verge of giving the Browns a 21-7 lead late in the third quarter after intercepting quarterback Landry Jones at the Browns' 32 and returning the ball inside the Steelers' 5. But just before Boddy-Calhoun could stretch the ball over the goal line at the conclusion of what would have been a 68-yard pick-six, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey tracked Boddy-Calhoun down at the 1 and knocked the ball free and Jones recovered in the end zone. Heyward-Bey's refusal to quit on the play helped save the game.


Nov. 20 _ Steelers 24, Browns 9: Linebacker William Gay's sack of quarterback Cody Kessler on second-and-goal from the Steelers' 3 in the third quarter helped the Steelers keep the Browns out of the end zone on a drive that had achieved a first-and-goal from the Steelers' 1. It also pushed Harrison's career sacks total to 77.5, just ahead of Jason Gildon's 77 and into first place in franchise history since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Given the season Harrison had, could any sack have been more appropriate?


Jan. 8 _ Steelers 30, Dolphins 12: On second-and-goal from the Miami 1 with the Steelers ahead, 14-3, in the second quarter, running back Le'Veon Bell took a hand-off at the 6, advanced to the 4 and then came to a sudden and complete stop. On purpose. Then he burst toward the goal line. Bell said he couldn't remember having done that previously. Veteran observes said they hadn't seen anything like that before. The officials must not have, either, because Bell's carry had to be replay-reviewed into a touchdown. It was Bell's most representative run during a season in which Bell redefined how running is done.  


Oct. 9 _ Steelers 31, Jets 13: On the Steelers' third offensive snap, Roethlisberger dropped back three steps from shotgun formation, let it fly and hit wide receiver Sammie Coates in perfect stride at the Jets' 33. Coates coasted the rest of the way into the end zone on a 72-yard strike, the Steelers' longest of the season. They coaxed such combustibility from Coates with regularity in the early going. Doing so more consistently will be a goal next season.


Nov. 20 _ Steelers 24, Browns 9: The only defensive touchdown of the season occurred on second-and-10 from the Browns' 13 in the fourth quarter. The Steelers rushed four and linebacker Ryan Shazier wound up with a clear path to the pocket. Shazier flushed quarterback Josh McCown, sacked him and forced a fumble. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave fell on the ball in the end zone. The play reflected the terror Shazier became in 2016, and the knack Hargrave and his fellow rookie starters, cornerback Artie Burns and strong safety Sean Davis, steadily developed for being impactful.

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