Over the last few weeks, as the gold rush for sports content continues, I've seen many of my friends and colleagues compose lists of the best wins and most heartbreaking losses in Pittsburgh sports history. Hey, at a time like this, lists are all we got. But one thing I never see discussed are some of the most under-appreciated wins in the incredible sports history of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So here we go - These are the five most forgotten and under-appreciated moments in Pittsburgh sports in my lifetime.
5) Steelers 2002 Wild Card Win Over Cleveland
Tommy Maddox and the Steelers scored 29 second half points and overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat the Cleveland Browns in the first ever playoff game at Heinz Field. Fan favorite Chris Fuamatu-Maʻafala scored the go-ahead touchdown with 54 seconds left to cap a game-winning 58 yard drive by the Steelers. Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress both had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown, while Antwaan Randle El had a 66 yard punt return touchdown. The 2002 Wild Card game is still the Browns most recent playoff appearance, and their only playoff game since the franchise returned in 1999. Long may they suffer.
4) Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin 100, 200, 300 Game
It was milestone mania for Sid and Geno on October 18, 2008, a great day for hockey at the Igloo. Sidney Crosby scored his 100th goal and recorded his 200th assist - if you can do math, that means he also hit the 300 point mark as well. 100 goals, 200 assists, and 300 points on the same night, in a 4-1 victory against the Maple Leafs. That alone would already be pretty cool. But Geno also assisted on all 4 penguins goals on the night, hitting the 200 point mark in his young nhl career in the process. At the end of the night, Geno had 201 points in 166 games. Sid had 302 points in 219 career games. And they were both still barely old enough to legally drink a beer. It was an amazing time to be a hockey fan in Pittsburgh.
3) Steelers - Jets 2010 AFC Championship Game
This one is forgotten because, unfortunately, the Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl two weeks later. But this is one of the more satisfying Steelers wins in my lifetime. That Jets team in 2010 never shut up. Led by Rex Ryan, they did more talking than winning. I imagine if the current Cleveland Browns roster ever has any small amount of success, they will act just like that 2010 New York Jets team. The Jets were feeling themselves after defeating the Patriots in Foxborough in the Divisional Round - Remember Bart Scott - Cant Wait! - But the Steelers shut them up in dramatic fashion, jumping out to an early 24–0 lead and holding off the Jets' comeback to earn the Steelers third Super Bowl bid in six years.
2) Sidney Crosby's First Game In Philadelphia
November 16, 2005. A day that will live in infamy in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That was the day those mouth-breathing orange clad cretins met their father, Sidney Patrick Crosby, for the first time. Early in the game, Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher hit Crosby in the mouth with his stick, chipping two of Sid's front teeth in the process. No penalty was called, of course. Crosby, as he always does, got the last laugh however, with two goals and an assist in a 3-2 Penguins victory in overtime at that dump they call the Wells Fargo Center. Sid scored the game winner in overtime, and it's still one of my favorite Doc Emerick calls. A month later, Sid tallied a six point game against the Flyers, and has owned them ever since. In 93 career games against the Flyers (postseason included), Sidney Crosby has 141 points. Father of the Year. Hell, Father of the Decade!
1) Steelers - Ravens 2010 Divisional Round
Another one that gets overlooked because of the loss in the Super Bowl to the Packers. If the Steelers win that Super Bowl, this would be one of the most beloved wins in franchise history. I really do believe that. The Steelers were down 21-7 at halftime and were not playing well. And mind you, 14 points might not seem like an insurmountable defect now, but against that Ravens defense it sure felt like it at halftime. These were the days when 17 points was often enough to win one of those Steelers-Ravens armageddon battles. That's how good the defenses were for both teams. However, Pittsburgh came to play in the second half. The Steelers dominated the third quarter, forcing three turnovers and holding the Ravens to negative yards in the process. I’ll never forget this sequence - Early in the third quarter, Ray Rice fumbled and LaMarr Woodley recovered it deep in Ravens territory. Big Ben threw a touchdown pass to Heath Miller to get the Steelers within seven points. Two possessions later, Ryan Clark intercepted a pass from Joe Flacco and returned it to the Ravens 25-yard line. Roethlisberger threw another touchdown pass, this time to Hines Ward, tying the game at 21. Two plays later, Joe Flacco turned the ball over again, this time fumbling inside Ravens' territory. The Steelers took the lead and never looked back. The 2010 run to the Super Bowl was great, it's a shame the loss to the Packers often leads us to forget that. If Mendenhall could have just held on to the dang ball!
Wesley Uhler is the host of Steelers Blitz, Noon-2 on Steelers Nation Radio, and a Producer for ESPN Pittsburgh. You can find him on Twitter @WesleyUhler.
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