All that matters is getting hot at the end of the season and punching a ticket to the dance. No franchise knows that better than the Pittsburgh Steelers who, in 2005-2006, entered the playoffs as the No. 6 seed and ran through the AFC’s 3, 2, 1 before toppling the Seahawks to win Super Bowl XL.
As the Steelers prepare to head to New England to face the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday, we take a look back at the crucial moments in their season that have led to their arrival at the Super Bowl’s doorstep.
Lawrence Timmons picks off Eli Manning near the goal line
The Steelers entered their Week 13 contest early in their winning streak, while the Giants arrived in Pittsburgh as winners of six straight. Trailing 0-5 midway through the second quarter, the Giants had marched 9 plays to the Steelers 9-yard line when, on a 2nd and 4, Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons dropped into coverage and snagged a would-be Manning touchdown pass to tight end Larry Donnell and returned it 58 yards to the Giants’ 40. The Steelers found paydirt three plays later to take an 11-0 lead in a 24-14 win that improved their record to 7-5 after a sluggish 4-5 start.
Le’Veon Bell sidesteps, waits, then runs through a pile of Bills
About a dozen different runs or receptions from would be suitable to represent Bell’s importance in this Week 14 snow game at Buffalo, when Bell exploded for 236 rushing yards (plus 62 receiving yards).
In Week 15 at Cincinnati, the Bengals had spoiling on their mind when the Steelers rolled up but forgot their red zone offense. Just before the half, the Bengals led 20-6 when Steelers kicker Chris Boswell booted the third and longest of his field goals (later tied) of the day with a 49-yarder to close the gap.
Then in the second half, Boswell hit from 40 and 49 and 30 to bring the Steelers within 20-18 until they finally scored a touchdown. Incredibly, Boswell pulled the Kick 6 again this season with an NFL postseason record six field goals, accounting for all of Pittsburgh’s points in an 18-16 win over the Chiefs.
Antonio Brown’s full extension of destiny
In Week 16, the Steelers and Ravens locked up for the NFC North crown when the Steelers found themselves trailing, 27-24, with a drive beginning at their own 25. With 14 ticks remaining and zero timeouts at the Ravens 4, Ben Roethlisberger took a shot at the end zone, only Antonio Brown caught the ball one yard shy of paydirt and got swarmed by a trio of Ravens defenders.
However, AB doesn’t skip leg day, and managed to push forward to extend the nose of the football across the goal line for the division-winning score. Had he failed, the clock may have expired, ending the the game.
Using all his dad- and man-strength, Harrison found Fisher’s outside edge and threatened to break through him and destroy Alex Smith when Fisher committed the hold, erasing what would have been the game-tying two-point conversion pass to Demetrius Harris. The Steelers held on to win and, naturally, Harrison went back to the gym several hours later.