The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NFL. They’re level with the New England Patriots for most Super Bowl wins since the merger, winning the last of their crowns in the 2008 campaign. Pittsburgh have remained competitive throughout their tenure in the league – it is not often when the franchise are out of contention for the Super Bowl. They are backed at +2000 in the betting odds for the 2019 season, with the expectation of at least being in the mix for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The Steelers have only had three head coaches since 1970 – a remarkable feat of consistency from the front office. They remain one of the most respected and storied franchises in the NFL. There have been so many moments of joy for their fanbase over the years and we’ll now break down five of the best touchdowns in their illustrious history.
5. Franco Harris Wins First Super Bowl
The Steelers reached their first Super Bowl under the tenure of Chuck Noll in the 1974 campaign. Pittsburgh had been frustrated in their previous attempts to reach the title game, being defeated in the AFC Championship Game by a rampant Miami Dolphins team in 1972. Noll’s side were beaten in the Divisional Round by the Oakland Raiders the following season. However, they cruised their way past the Buffalo Bills and the Raiders to set up a showdown with the Minnesota Vikings. Pittsburgh were slight favorites for the contest, although it took both teams time to settle into the game.
A fumble from Dave Osborn brought the Steelers to life, although Fran Tarkenton took the two-point safety for the Vikings to prevent the touchdown. Pittsburgh kicked into life and Franco Harris put his team an unassailable lead in the third quarter, running in from four yards out. It was Pittsburgh’s first touchdown in the Super Bowl, but certainly not their last. Larry Brown ensured that the Steelers would earn the victory, collecting a pass from Terry Bradshaw. It was the running ability of Harris that got the franchise off the mark, with a 158-yard MVP performance, setting the tone for the game and the rest of the decade that Pittsburgh dominated.
4. Antwaan Randle El To Hines Ward
Super Bowl XL was not a classic contest between the Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks in the 2005 campaign. Pittsburgh had endured a 10-year drought without an appearance in the title game, losing their last outing against the Dallas Cowboys in 1995. It had been 26 years since the franchise had last taken possession of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Pittsburgh had been accused of being nearly men under the tenure of Bill Cowher, suffering high-profile defeats in the playoffs. The Steelers had gone 15-1 in the 2004 season, only to be beaten by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Although they finished second in the AFC North in 2005, they brushed aside the Cincinnati Bengals, survived the Indianapolis Colts and eased past the Denver Broncos to reach the Super Bowl in Detroit.
It was a tense affair in the opening quarter, but the Steelers grew into the game to take control either side of half-time. Ben Roethlisberger ran in from close range in the second quarter before Willie Parker surged through the Seahawks’ defense to score a 75-yard touchdown. Jerramy Stevens brought Seattle back into the game, collecting a strike from Matt Hasselbeck, leaving the game in the balance.
The Steelers had a play-call planned to blow the game open. With Roethlisberger struggling, Cowher unleashed a trick play. Roethlisberger pitched the ball to Parker, who in turn found Randle El. He ran across the line before throwing deep to Hines Ward, who managed to break in behind the Seahawks defense to make the over-the-shoulder catch for a 43-yard touchdown that killed off the game.
3. Lynn Swann 64-yard Touchdown To Cap MVP Performance
Swann produced many memorable moments during his Hall of Fame career, but perhaps non-quite like his performance in Super Bowl X – the second of the Steelers’ four triumphs. Noll’s men had surged towards the title game, once again, in defense of their crown in 1975. They finished 12-2 before defeating the Baltimore Colts and Oakland Raiders.
The Steelers set up a showdown with the Dallas Cowboys to win their second straight title. Unlike the first Super Bowl when Harris put the team on his back, on this occasion it was Swann who was able to rise to the occasion. Bradshaw only completed nine passes over the course of the contest. Four of them were to Swann, who produced two of the most breath-taking catches seen in Super Bowl history.
First, he produced an incredible toe-tapping catch on the sideline, somehow keeping himself in bounds to move his team into scoring position. In the second quarter from deep in Steelers’ territory, Bradshaw lofted the ball downfield towards Swann in a battle with Mark Washington. The wide receiver somehow made the catch, diving in mid-air to complete the grab. Swann was not done there as he ended the contest with his first touchdown of the game. Bradshaw sent the ball deep for Swann on the surge down the middle of the field where he beat the coverage of Washington, again, to complete the game-winning score and win the MVP award.
2. Immaculate Reception
This play is only knocked off the top spot due to it being played in the Divisional Round rather than the Super Bowl. It has been voted the greatest play of all time, although it does have an element of controversy. In 1972, the Steelers played the Raiders in the Divisional Round. A late touchdown from Ken Stabler handed the Raiders a 7-6 lead, leaving Pittsburgh little time to regain the advantage. It was looking bleak for Noll’s men on fourth down and 10 at their own 40-yard line with only 40 seconds remaining. What happened next was one of the most incredible moments in NFL history.
Under duress, Bradshaw threw the ball up for grabs towards John Fuqua. The Pittsburgh receiver battled with Raiders safety Jack Tatum for possession. It appeared to strike Tatum on the helmet and it flew back from whence it came. Franco Harris out of nowhere grabbed the ball before it struck the ground, practically off his toes. He then surged past several Oakland defenders down the left sideline to record a 60-yard touchdown.
The Steelers won the game, although whether it was within the rules is up for debate. If the ball had struck Fuqua rather than Tatum, the rules would have deemed it an incompletion. It’s also up for debate whether the ball struck the ground before Harris made the catch. It’s null and void now, although it’s still a sore spot for Raiders’ fans. The Steelers were beaten by the Dolphins in the next round of the post-season anyway.
1. Holmes Win Super Bowl XLIII For Pittsburgh
The Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals dueled it out in Super Bowl XLIII. Pittsburgh enjoyed an impressive season under second-year head coach Mike Tomlin, boasting a 12-4 record and home-field advantage through the AFC playoffs. The Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens in a thriller to reach the title game.
Arizona presented a tough challenge with veteran quarterback Kurt Warner. Pittsburgh took the early initiative with a field goal before the two sides exchanged touchdowns. Warner drove his side down the field at the end of the first half, moving into the striking zone. However, under pressure, Warner threw the ball straight into the arms of James Harrison dropping in coverage. The linebacker made the pick and rumbled down the right sideline with his team-mates clearing a path. He charged 100 yards weaving his way through tackles to record a decisive touchdown, creating a 14-point swing.
To their credit the Cardinals came roaring back in the second half. Warner and Larry Fitzgerald connected twice for touchdowns, including a 64-yard score to put Arizona ahead with two minutes left in the game. The stage was set for Roethlisberger to have his Super Bowl moment. He held his composure under pressure to drive the Steelers down towards the Cardinals’ goal line. With 40 seconds remaining on second and goal, Roethlisberger floated the ball to the back of the endzone. Santonio Holmes reached up above three Cardinals defenders to snag the touchdown, tapping his toes in the tightest of corners. It was one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history to win the Steelers their sixth crown.