Sports: The Steelers, The 2000’s

Since 1960, this decade was the 2nd most successful for the franchise. The Steelers won 2 Super Bowls and had only one losing season. The Bill Cowher era came to an end in 2006 and Mike Tomlin took over in 2007. The Super Bowl winning season of 2008 was the most exciting season in Steeler history. There were more big plays in that season than all the other seasons combined. The 2008 group was not the best Steeler team of all time by a long shot. In fact, they may not have been as good as the team that lost the Super Bowl in 95, but they were the most entertaining of all the Super Bowl winning teams. They had a great defense that only gave up 223 points to lead the league. Only the 2001 defense and the defenses of the 70’s gave up fewer points. They also gave up the fewest yards that year. This was the decade that the Steelers solidified themselves as one of the premier franchises in all of sports.

Record For The Decade: 103 Wins 56 Losses 1 Tie

Best Year: 2004 15-1 2008 12-4 Won Super Bowl

Worst Year: 2003 6-10

Why The Steelers Won More Than They Lost: They found a franchise quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. They had one of their better defensive stretches during this time. They again hired a great coach in Mike Tomlin. They picked up one of the all time great safeties in Troy Polamalu, who became the heart and soul of those great defenses of the 2000’s. The other defensive stalwart on those teams was James Harrison. To this day he has what could be considered the greatest play in Super Bowl history. There weren’t as many Hall of Famers during this decade but the Steelers had many great players that included, Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis, Aaron Smith, Ike Taylor, Joey Porter and Willie Parker, to name just a few.

Significant Games. There was one significant game in each of the two Super Bowl winning years. The first was a 38-31 loss to the Cincinnati Bengels and the game was not as close as the score indicated. This was the Steelers 3rd loss in a row to send their record to 7-5. After the game many of the Bengal players were talking that this was the end of the line for the Steelers, they had no chance of making the playoffs and the Bengals would be dominating the division for the next few years. From that point on, the Steelers won their last 4 games and snuck in as the 6th seed. They beat the Bengals in the opening round and then upset the Indianapolis Colts, who had soundly beaten the Steelers in the regular season. Three weeks later Super Bowl win number 5 would be theirs. In 2008 the Steelers started the season 2-0 but the second win was an ugly 10-6 win over the hapless Cleveland Browns. Then the next week they laid an even bigger egg in Philadelphia losing 15-6 with the offense only gaining a total of 180 yards and Big Ben was sacked 9 times. The next week the Steelers came home to face the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. The Steelers were behind 13-3 at halftime and looked just as bad as they had for the whole game in Philadelphia. The Monday Night broadcast crew was wondering what Mike Tomlin was going to do and it was going to be a difficult week for the Steelers upcoming. The third quarter did not start any better and the booth was still talking about how much trouble the Steelers were in and the coaching staff had their work cut out for them. Then with 5 minutes to go in the third quarter the Steelers offense moved the ball, got another 15 yards on an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Ravens. Three plays later Ben threw over the middle short to Santonio Holmes, he broke a tackle and scampered 30 yards into the endzone to make the score 13-10. The first play after the kickoff James Harrison stripped the ball from Joe Flacco on a 9 yard sack, and Lamar Woodley pick up the ball and scored a touchdown, to take the lead 17-13. In the span of 13 seconds the Steelers scored 2 touchdowns and went on to win the game in overtime 23-20. The announcers didn’t have any more to say about the Steelers problems. They went on to win Super Bowl number 6 when the defense came up with the play of the year, a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown to end the first half. It was, indeed, the year of the big play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Decades Best Player: This was another easy choice as Troy Polamalu was the dominant player of the decade. He started playing for the Steelers in 2003 and was the standout defensive player. During those 7 years he had 20 interceptions and made spectacular play after spectacular play. He would have great years going into the other decade, as he was the defensive player of the year in 2010. Without him there would be no Super Bowl victories.

The next and last full decade of Steeler football would be best summed up as a decade of frustration. The Steelers would make the playoffs 6 of those 10 years but would lose every year, and many times in bizarre fashion. There would be no more Super Bowls for the franchise quarterback.

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