For the Steelers, the decade started as it ended: with Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines.
In the first game of the 2010 season, Big Ben was serving the first game of a four game suspension as the Steelers topped the Falcons in overtime 15-9. And as we’re all aware, he missed the final fourteen games of the decade with his elbow injury as the team ended 2019 with an 8-8 record.
The 2010s had their highs and lows for the Black and Gold. The tale of this era will be about the potential left on the table for adding a seventh Lombardi. But despite the disappointment and loud “what ifs”, we would be remiss if we didn’t go back and look at the top moments of the decade.
Two precursories for this list:
(1) I will be reflecting and ranking on the excitement felt in the moment for the given highlight. I will not be using information we have now about how the season ended nor how some people (AB) became sociopaths.
(2) Ryan Shazier walking across the stage at the 2018 NFL Draft would top many lists of Steelers highlights this decade, but this list features solely moments happening on the football field.
Without further adieu, here are my Top Ten Steeler Moments This Decade:
(10) 2012 Week 13 — Charlie Batch leads victory over Ravens
A few days before his 38th birthday, Charlie Batch and the Pittsburgh Steelers faced the Ravens in Baltimore with their season on life support. They just lost two straight and sat at 6-5 with Ben missing another game due to injury.
In what would be his final time seeing NFL action, the Pittsburgh area native Charlie Batch connected with Heath Miller for a late tying touchdown. He then led the team down the field against the bitter Ravens defense for a game winning Shaun Suisham field goal.
This win wasn’t just a feel good story for a good guy, like Charlie Batch. It was huge for the Steelers as it set them at 7-5 with Roethlisberger returning for the final stretch of the season. Ultimately, the Steelers fell short of the playoffs by losing the next three games including a heartbreaker to the Bengals.
(9) 2018 Week 10 — Offensive Explosion Against the Panthers
The Steelers began their 2018 season slow with a 1-2-1 start. They ran off four consecutive wins and faced the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football.
The Panthers scored on their first drive, but the Steelers answered fast with a Ben to Juju connection for 75 yards on their first offensive play. On the next play from scrimmage, Vince Williams took an interception back to the house for the 14-7 lead.
From there, the Steelers offense continued to explode with 52 points, the most scored since 1984. Ben had his fourth game with a perfect passer rating as he completed 22 of 25 attempts for 328 yards and 5 TDs.
Almost more impressively, the 5 TDs were to 5 different receivers.
(8) 2018 Week 15 — Steelers Snap Losing Streak, Beat Pats
The Steelers followed up the Panthers game with a close victory against the Jaguars. Sitting at 7-2-1, the Steelers had to feel pretty good. But then disaster struck as they lost three consecutive games against the Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders.
Nothing seemed to be going the Steelers way during that stretch and to make it worse the Patriots were coming to town. The Steelers hadn’t beaten New England since 2011 so most signs were pointing to the Steelers losing streak moving to four.
But the Steelers scratched their way to a 17-10 victory that Pittsburgh fans held their breathe for the majority of the game. This game proved meaningless as the Steelers fell short of the playoffs and the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl. But at the time, this win meant a lot for the Steelers and fans, especially after the Jesse James fiasco the year prior. They finally beat the Brady and Belichick and kept their season alive for another week after three weeks of nothing quite going their way.
(7) 2016 Wild Card Playoffs — Ben / AB Touchdowns
Riding a seven game winning streak, the Steelers hosted the Dolphins in the first round of the playoffs. It was an absolutely freezing day with a wind chill of 2 degrees.
The Steelers started off red hot as Ben found AB for two touchdowns on two consecutive touchdown passes, one for 50 yards and the second for 62. Le’Veon Bell added 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns as the Steelers rolled to victory 30-12.
(6) 2014 Week 8 & 9 — Ben’s Back-To-Back 6 TD Game
This was the birth of the killer B’s. Records were broken left and right over these two games.
In the first game against Andrew Luck and the Colts, Ben became the first QB ever to throw for over 500 yards in two games. Additionally, his 522 yards is the fourth best all time. Most importantly, all of this was done in the Steelers’ horrific bumble bee uniforms.
The Steelers followed up that performance by duplicating the 6 TD feat against the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Ben’s 12 touchdown passes over two consecutive games set an NFL record that I think will stand for some time.
And in the most 2010s Steelers fashion ever, they followed up these two amazing performances with a 20-13 loss against the hapless Jets.
(5) 2017 Week 14 — Steelers Comeback to Clinch Division
Another Sunday Night Football classic between the Ravens and the Steelers. The Steelers fought back from a nine point deficit with 6:44 to play in the game as Chris Boswell hit a game-winning 46 yard field goal.
The Steelers clinched back-to-back division titles with this victory and it was the first time the team did this since 2007 and 2008. Ben Roethlisberger was electric throwing for 506 yards as AB had 213 yards on 11 catches.
This game had added emotion as it was the first game since Ryan Shazier’s tragic injury.
(4) 2010 Week 13 — Polamalu’s Strip Sack on Flacco & Redman’s 3rd Down TD
This is a classic Steelers and Ravens game. This one epitomizes this era of the rivalry. Hard hitting defenses, low scoring, and a lot being on the line.
On Sunday Night Football, the Steelers and Ravens battled for the AFC North’s drivers seat. Early in the game, Holati Ngata broke Ben’s nose which was so mundane only because this was Ravens Steelers.
The Ravens held a late 10-6 lead when Troy Polamalu strip sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco with an iconic chop of Flacco’s arm. Lamar Woodley recovered the fumble and set up the Steelers with a First and Goal.
The toughest part still was in front of the Steelers: scoring against the stout Ravens defense. Baltimore held on first and second down but on 3rd down from the 9, Ben found Issac Redman across the middle for the game winning touchdown.
Redman caught the pass around the 7 yard line and bounced like a pinball as he somehow crossed the goal line.
This win was huge for the Steelers as it put them in control of the division and a First Round Bye for the playoffs.
(3) 2015 Wild Card Playoffs — Bengals Doing Bengals Things
Even before the final sequence of events, this game was wild! It was a super rainy night and the Bengals were looking for their first playoff win since 1991.
It was neck and neck for the majority of the game when AJ McCarron hit AJ Green for a 25 yard touchdown with under two minutes to go to take a 16-15 lead.
Could this be it? Could the Bengals win their first playoff game in 25 years?
It looked more likely when Vontaze Burfict picked off Landry Jones (Ben was hurt), setting up the Bengals to run out the clock with a first down.
On the first play, Jereme Hill gained about six yards when he was striped by Shazier in what is a criminally forgotten play.
The Steelers get the ball back with around 1:45 to go…and Ben is coming back onto the field after hurting his throwing shoulder early on a sack by Burfict.
Ben dink and dumps them down the field in the pouring rain, just needing to get into field goal range for the winning attempt. Ben fires an incomplete pass to AB across the middle and Burfict delivers a blow directly to AB’s dome for a 15 yard penalty.
Then each of the teams have a peaceful tea party in the middle field as Brown is taken off. Linebacker coach Joey Porter incites another Bengals 15 yard penalty as Pacman Jones just acts as you’d expect him too.
Those two penalties put the Steelers comfortably in Field Goal range as the Steelers break their weird cousin’s hearts and stomp any hopes of the Bengals ending their playoff win drought.
(2) 2010 Divisional Playoffs — Steelers Advance After Falling Behind 21-7
Because the Steelers won the number four ranked moment on this list, the Steelers got to host the Ravens in this playoff classic. The Ravens jumped out to a 21-7 lead at the half thanks to a Corry Redding fumble return for a touchdown.
The Steelers forced turnovers to get back in the game and even took the lead in the fourth. The Ravens tied it up with a field goal of their own.
And then on 3rd and 19 with a little over two minutes to go, some nobody named Antonio Brown broke free on a vertical route and caught a beautifully thrown ball to set the Steelers up within the Ravens three yard line. On third down with a 1:37 to go, Rashard Mendenhall punched it in to take the 31-24 lead.
The Steelers closed it out and advanced to the AFC Championship, sending their bitter rivals home.
(1) 2016 Week 16 — The Immaculate Extension
It was Christmas Day. The Steelers and Ravens faced off with the winner all but guaranteed to win the division and advance to the playoffs.
The Ravens took a 20-10 lead with 14 minutes to go. Seven minutes and two Bell touchdowns later, the Steelers took a 24-20 lead with all the momentum.
Flacco lead the Ravens back down the field Kyle Juszczyk scored a 10 yard touchdown to take a 27-24 lead with 1:18 to go. If you remember, Juszczyk caught his footing around the five yard line and scored. I think if he fell short, the Ravens still would have taken the lead with a TD and could have taken more time off the clock.
With the division and season on the line, Ben and Company went down the field and found themselves at the four yard line. With 14 seconds to go and no timeouts left, Ben throws a crosser to Antonio Brown short the goal line who is met by Ravens defenders. They stuff Brown but AB does just enough to reach the ball out to cross the goal line.
The Steelers win the division and extend their longest win streak since 2004 to six games.
The reason this moment is number one on my list is because of how hyped I was at this moment. The Steelers were rolling and, more importantly, were healthy heading into the playoffs. For the first time, we would get to see Ben, AB, and Lev Bell all together for a playoff run. I thought this really could have been something.
Thanks for reliving some of my favorite Steelers memories from the 2010s. Here’s to all that 2020 and beyond has to offer for the Steelers.
Here We Go!