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They’ve had their moments
Super Bowl history replete with Steelers’ triumph, heartbreak and the Boss
By Mike Prisuta Feb 12, 2022

Full disclosure for openers: The following was inspired by Rick Gosselin.

His recent feature for si.com, "The 55 Most Memorable Super Bowl Moments," got me thinking.

My first thought was Gosselin, the dean of NFL writers and a longtime colleague and friend, did not include enough Steelers moments in his tribute to the first 55 Super Bowls.

My second thought was, I can rectify that situation.

What eventually followed was a piece that included Steelers-only moments.

I no doubt didn't include enough of those, either.

Still, 10 seemed like enough for such a project.

Keep in mind I called these as I saw them, as I remember them, as I'll never forget them.

You might have a different list in mind.

Here's mine:

No. 10: Tramps Like Us
Super Bowl XLIII will be remembered for many things.

I'll remember it first and foremost as a Bruce Springsteen concert that had a couple quarters of football sandwiched on both sides (I revere the Boss the way a great many of you probably do the Steelers).

My newspaper assignment at the time included writing a piece that needed to be filed immediately after the game on the play of the game.

I decided at halftime that would be James Harrison's interception return no matter what happened in the second half.

So I went straight to my work at the break, typing with my right hand but remembering to fist-pump appropriately with my left at the "tramps like us" juncture of "Born to Run."

No offense to Santonio Holmes, but Springsteen was the MVP in Tampa.

No. 9: Bombs Away
The Steelers trailed the Rams entering the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XIV, 19-17.

Then Bradshaw-to-Stallworth happened.

On third-and-8 from the Steelers' 27-yard line with 12:15 left in regulation, the eventual Hall-of-Fame pair hooked up on a 73-yard touchdown pass that re-established order along the way to the Steelers' fourth Super Bowl championship.

The two added a subsequent 43-yard connection that helped set up the exclamation point touchdown in what became a 31-19 triumph.

No. 8: Steelers Football
Points were hard to come by for both sides in Super Bowl IX, but Franco Harris found the end zone eventually.

When he did so on second-and-goal from the Vikings' 9 early in the third quarter, it was as if everything the Steelers had been about since Harris' arrival in 1972 had been a precursor to this very moment. Harris followed pulling right guard Gerry Mullins around left end and rumbled into the end zone. Suddenly, a 2-0 lead had grown to 9-0 and the countdown to the long-suffering franchise's long-awaited first championship was underway.

Harris finished with 34 carries for 158 yards, including that signature touchdown run, in the Steelers' 16-6 victory.

Given who they were and how they had gotten there, it couldn't have been scripted any better.

No. 7: At Home in Motown

It was a battle against Seattle in Super Bowl XL, as well. But then Alan Faneca and Max Starks helped spring "Fast" Willie Parker on a 75-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter that upped the Steelers' lead to 14-3.

The final score was 21-10 and the championship drought that had begun after the Steelers' victory in Super Bowl XIV was finally over.

The game was played at Ford Field in Detroit but should still be remembered, unofficially, at the very least, as the first Super Bowl in which one of the teams enjoyed a home field advantage.

I think the Seahawks' famed "12th Man" core of fans contributed about 12 men to the official attendance of 68,206.

I might be exaggerating a bit on that last count, but if you were there you know what I'm talking about.

No. 6: Bradshaw to Swann
Super Bowl X was a vicious battle against Dallas. The Steelers led, 15-10, with 3:31 left in regulation when Bradshaw rook it upon himself to do what was necessary to seal the deal.

On third-and-4 from the Steelers' 36, he dropped back to pass, stepped up to avoid D.D. Lewis' blitz and delivered a strike deep down the field for Lynn Swann.

Larry Cole blasted Bradshaw with a helmet-to-helmet smash just after the ball had been released. It knocked Bradshaw from the game and was the type of play that would get Cole excommunicated today.

It didn't matter.

Swann put the capper on a four-catch, 161-yard day by scoring the touchdown that produced a 21-10 lead for the Steelers along the way to a 21-17 triumph and back-to-back championships.

No offense to Ben Roethlisberger, but it was as magnificent a pass as any that have ever been thrown amid such circumstances.

No. 5: The Comeback That Wasn't
The Steelers had established themselves as a comeback-capable collection along the way to Super Bowl XXX. And after falling behind the Cowboys 13-0 and 20-7, they were doing it again.

When they got the ball back with 4:15 left in regulation and facing a 20-17 deficit, I looked down at my laptop and began to think about the lede that would do justice to a come-from-behind victory that produced the franchise's fifth Super Bowl championship.

Then I heard the crowd react at Sun Devil Stadium.

When I turned my attention back to the field, the Cowboys' Larry Brown was running toward the Steelers' end zone with the ball he'd intercepted after Neil O'Donnell had tried to hit Andre Hastings.

The Cowboys eventually prevailed, 27-17.

So close, and yet so far away.

No. 4: Jack Splats Harris
Roy Gerela was injured and having his issues in Super Bowl X. But when he missed his second field goal attempt of the afternoon, a 33-yarder with the Steelers trailing, 10-7, in the third quarter, the Cowboys took their celebrating too far.

Cliff Harris repeatedly patted the beleaguered kicker on the top of the helmet, which didn't escape the attention of Jack Lambert.

Lambert responded by grabbing Harris and slamming him to the turf at the Orange Bowl.

Harris responded by pleading with the referee for a penalty that was never called.

The Steelers eventually won the game, 21-17.

Years later, Mike Wagner assessed the significance of what might have been Lambert's most impactful tackle.

"I think the message sent was thunderous," Wagner said. "No one is going to intimidate any of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And if you don't understand that we're going to show you that."

Thunderous … good word.

Photos of Super Bowl X. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 to capture the team's second Super Bowl victory in Miami's Orange Bowl.

No. 3: Roethlisberger to Holmes
No offense to Bradshaw but this, too, was as magnificent a pass as any that have ever been thrown in a Super Bowl.

It was only 6 yards, but the stakes couldn't have been greater and Roethlisberger's window couldn't have been smaller.

Pretty good catch, too.

The connection capped an eight-play, 78-yard drive in 2:02 that won Super Bowl XLIII, 27-23.

Holmes caught four passes for 73 yards on the march into history, which actually covered 88 yards after a holding penalty had been enforced against Chris Kemoeatu on the first snap.

After further review, perhaps Holmes deserved the MVP over Springsteen after all.

No. 2: Harrison's 100-Yard Dash
The Cardinals were 1 yard away from taking a 14-10 lead into the locker room at Raymond James Stadium in Super Bowl XLIII.

But on first-and-goal with 18 seconds remaining before the break, James Harrison for some reason decided not to blitz as he was supposed to on the play.

Then he intercepted Kurt Warner.

Then he followed a convoy of teammates down the sideline and somehow made it all the way across the opposite goal line as the first half expired.

As he gasped for air in the end zone, it appeared Harrison might be ready to expire, as well.

The potential 14-point swing he produced turned out to be critical in what ultimately became a four-point victory.

It may still be the slowest, greatest 100-yard dash ever recorded.

No. 1: Hail to the Chief
A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but if that's true the snapshot of beloved owner Art Rooney Sr. holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy after receiving it from Commissioner Pete Rozelle in the bowels of Tulane Stadium has absolutely, positively been shortchanged.

There stands Rooney, the game ball from Super Bowl IX cradled in his left hand and the hardware clutched in his right.

The look on his face is priceless.

The moment is sublime.

For Rooney and his Steelers, 40 years of losing had once and for all been washed away in four quarters of championship football.

It'll never get better than that.

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