Steelers Playoff History vs Miami Dolphins – Pittsburgh Looks to Even 1-2 Record

When the Pittsburgh Steelers welcome the Miami Dolphins to Heinz Field for the AFC Wild Card game Mike Tomlin’s team will be looking to even the Steelers playoff history vs the Miami Dolphins.

  • The Steelers and the Dolphins have clashed in the playoffs on three prior occasions, with the Steelers holding a 1-3 record.

The first time came at Three Rivers Stadium on New Year’s Eve 1972, in the AFC Championship game a week after the Immaculate Reception. The Super Steelers would clash in the post-season with Don Shula’s Dolphins again before they ended their run in the 1979 AFC Divisional Playoff game. And the final time Chuck Noll would face his mentor Don Shula in the playoffs came at the Orange Bowl in January 1985 in another AFC Championship match up.

Neither Steelers-Dolphins AFC Championship game resulted in a trip to the Super Bowl for Pittsburgh, but the Black and Gold’s luck in the AFC Divisional round was markedly better. Now we’ll take a look at all three, plus a peek at Mike Tomlin’s record vs. the Dolphins.

Terry Bradshaw, Steelers Dolphins 1972 AFC Championship, Steelers vs. Dolphins, Steelers playoff history vs Miami Dolphins

Terry Bradshaw scrambles in Steelers 1972 AFC Championship loss to the Miami Dolphins. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

1972 AFC Championship Game

January 31st, 1972 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh 17, Miami 21

Given that I was only a few months old when during the first Steelers-Dolphins 1972 AFC Championship game From Black to Gold author Tim Gleason surprised me when he listed this game as the biggest playoff disappointment in Steelers history.

  • After all, isn’t the Steelers 1994 AFC Championship loss to the Chargers Steelers Nation’s biggest post-season heartbreak?

While the Alfred Pupunu game certainly ranks, Gleason makes a compelling case for the Steelers 1972 New Year’s eve loss to the Dolphins. But Gleason argues that Don Shula’s famous 1972 undefeated Dolphins squad was in fact rather beatable, benefiting from the third easiest regular season schedule in NFL history that only had them play one winning team.

If the Steelers showed they could hang with the Dolphins, Chuck Noll’s playoff novices made a host of rookie mistakes. The Steelers got on the board first, but ominously Terry Bradshaw fumbled the ball but was saved by Gerry Mullins diving on it in the end zone. As the game wore on, Pittsburgh proved to be less capable of picking up after itself.

  • Dwight White jumped off sides to negate a Jack Ham interception
  • Dolphins punter Larry Seiple caught the Steelers flat footed on a 37-yard fake punt scramble
  • Bob Griese came off the bench to hit Paul Warfield at Andy Russell’s expense to gouge the Steelers for 52 yards
  • A blocked 4th quarter field goal prevented the Steelers from narrowing the score early in the 4th quarter

Terry Bradshaw had left the game in the first half with a concussion, but Terry Hanratty was unable to move the offense. Bradshaw returned, pulled the Steelers to within a touchdown with a 12 yard pass to Al Young. However, Bradshaw would throw interceptions on the next two drives ending Pittsburgh’s comeback hopes.

Not only did this game blunt the euphoria the Immaculate Reception had created a week earlier, but it also coincided with the tragic death of Roberto Clemente, who was probably the best baseball player in Pittsburgh’s history.

1979 AFC Divisional Playoffs

December 30th, 1979 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh 34, Miami 14

Legendary Pittsburgh Post-Gazette scribe Vito Stellino likened this one to Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. And why not? The Pittsburgh Steelers ran up a 20-0 score before Miami had even run its 8th play from scrimmage. As the first quarter reached its end, Miami had 2 yards of total offense; Pittsburgh had amassed 180.

  • Even a bad call couldn’t disrupt the Steelers on that day.

In the third quarter the officials ruled that Dwayne Woodruff had touched a punt, when in fact replays showed he had not. The Dolphins recovered at the Steelers 11-yard line and scored their first touchdown of the day.

Dwayne Woodruff, Mel Blount, Tony Nathan, 1979 Steelers Dolphins AFC Divisional Playoff game, Steelers playoff history vs dolphins

Dwayne Woodruff and Mel Blount close in on Tony Nathan in the 1979 AFC Divisional Playoff. Photo Credit: miamidolphins.com

Not that it mattered. Terry Bradshaw immediately led them on a 69 yard drive that ended in a Rocky Bleier touchdown. Franco Harris opened the 4th quarter by scoring another touchdown. Miami answered with a touchdown of its own, but it was too little too late.

Jack Lambert, Joe Greene and Gary Dunn combined for 3 sacks on Bob Grisie while Woodruff and Dirt Winston intercepted him twice. After Super Bowl XIII Chuck Noll boldly proclaimed that “this team hasn’t peeked yet.”

The Steelers 1979 Divisional playoff win over the Dolphins proved that the Emperor had been right.

1984 AFC Championship Game

January 6th, 1985 @ The Orange Bowl
Pittsburgh 28, Miami 45

As EVERYONE knows Chuck Noll decided to draft Gabe Rivera instead of Dan Marino in the 1983 NFL Draft and his decision forced Pittsburgh to wait 20 years until it drafted its next Franchise Quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger.

  • But when the Steelers took to the field against the Dolphins in the 1984 AFC Championship, it seemed like that decision might not matter….  Seriously.

A year earlier, the 1983 Steelers had limped into the playoffs on the final throws remaining in Terry Bradshaw’s arm only to have the Los Angeles Raiders man handle them 38-10. Logic dictated that “Decline” would define the 1984 Steelers. Chuck Noll had other ideas.

  • The 1984 Steelers might have only earned a 9-7 record, but they upset Bill Walsh’s 49ers and the defending Super Bowl Champion Raiders along the way.

A week before, Mark Malone spearheaded a dramatic upset of John Elway and Denver Broncos in Mile High. Yes, the Steelers had lost to the 1984 Dolphins 31-7 in early October, but the Steelers string of giant-slaying upsets showed that Pittsburgh had improved since then didn’t it?

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Dan Marino shreds Steelers in the 1984 AFC Championship game. Photo Credit: miamiolphins.com

The Steelers intended to use the same game plan that had seen them through to wins over the 49ers and Broncos – dominate at the line of scrimmage, control the clock and blitz the living daylights out of the quarterback.

Unfortunately, that was about the only thing that worked for the Steelers. A week earlier against Denver, Keith Gary, David Little and Mike Merriweather had combined for 4 sacks of John Elway. The Steelers defense failed to land a glove on Dan Marino.

  • To make matters worse, the Steelers couldn’t protect the ball, and the Dolphins capitalized.

Dan Marino had time to torch the Steelers defense for touchdown passes of 40, 41 and 26 yards. For much of the first half however, the Steelers feigned that they could match the Dolphins score for score. But Malone had opened the first half giving up an interception that allowed Miami to score first, and he closed the first half with another allowing Marino to stitch together a 3-play drive that gave them a 24-14 halftime lead.

The Dolphins scored 3 more touchdowns during the second half as the Steelers defense was powerless to slow, let alone stop the Miami juggernaut. In his final playoff game, John Stallworth had 4 catches for 111 yards including a 65 yard touchdown catch giving him league records for post season touchdown receptions and hundred yard games.

And, although Dan Rooney’s outlook following this game was rather rosy, the 1984 AFC Championship loss to the Dolphins also officially confirmed that, by not drafting Dan Marino, the Steelers wouldn’t enjoy back-to-back Super Bowl eras.

Mike Tomlin’s Record Against the Dolphins

Although it has been a long time since the Steelers and Dolphins have faced off in the playoffs, Mike Tomlin is no stranger to Miami, holding a 3-2 record against the Dolphins.

In 2007, the Steelers and Dolphins met on a soggy, rainy Heinz Field during Mike Tomlin’s first year as coach where the Steelers eked out a 0-3 win. The 2009 Steelers closed out their disappointing season with a 30-24 win over Miami that was pleasant, but insufficient to get them into the playoffs. In 2010, the Steelers won a  23-22 contest with controversial swirling over whether a fumble had been a fumble.

  • Mike Tomlin has had a tougher time against Miami during the rebuild following Super Bowl XLV.

In 2013 the Steelers followed their Thanksgiving Day loss to the Ravens with an upset loss to the Dolphins — in the snow at Heinz Field. And back in October this same Pittsburgh Steelers team dropped a 30 to 15 decision to the Dolphins.

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The Steelers 2016 AFC North Title is More than Just a Stocking Suffer

Steelers fans like to brag about not cherishing playoff spots, division titles or even conference championships.

I guess the standard really is the standard, and after watching the Black and Bold capture six Super Bowls, well, not to sound too cliched (it’s like nails on the chalkboard, sometimes), fans expect nothing less.

However, there’s something to be said for winning a division title, which Pittsburgh did, Sunday night, thanks to a pulsating Christmas 31-27 victory over the Ravens at Heinz Field.

Mike Tomlin, steelers 2016 AFC north title

Mike Tomlin addresses the 2016 AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Did the win secure home-field advantage or even a bye? No, but a division championship is nothing to sneeze at and not just something that you look back on years later and say, “Oh yeah, they won the division that year.”

The AFC North is a pretty tough and bruising division, filled with hard-fought and often dirty battles. Sometimes, the best teams don’t always come out on top, and even when they do, like the Steelers did in 2014, it’s not always unscathed. (Le’Veon Bell suffered a hyper-extended knee against the Bengals in the regular season finale and was lost for the wild card game versus Baltimore a week later.)

The Steelers got out of Sunday’s game without any serious injuries, and the fact that they survived at all, heck, that’s better than the alternative.

  • Can you imagine how glum things would be this week, on the heels of a depressing home loss to Baltimore that would have seriously put the Steelers playoff hopes in jeopardy?

Believe me, the chances of the Bengals, the unstable and probably ready for the tropics Bengals, mustering up the enthusiasm to wreck Baltimore’s season in Week 17 on the way to the plane were probably slimmer than none.

Now, Pittsburgh, a team with a lock on the third playoff seed has a chance to rest players such as James Harrison, Stephon Tuitt, Ladarius Green and perhaps even Ben Roethlisberger. Likewise, players who’ve been injured such as Darrius Heyward-Bey, DeAngelo Williams and perhaps even Sammie Coates can get a chance to get their feet wet.

So, who do the Steelers match-up best against in the postseason? Who cares……for now. Just enjoy that division title for the next couple of weeks. Sure, it’s been done in Pittsburgh 22 times since 1972, but it’s still not that easy (if it was, everyone would do it).

Go out and buy that t-shirt. Go out and buy that cap.

The Steelers are in the playoffs, and that just never gets old.

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No Place Like Home: Is Ben Roethlisberger’s Road Record Under Todd Haley a Concern?

Is there a larger trend behind Ben Roethlisberger’s road record and struggles away from Heinz Field?

Sometimes reality is inconvenient. Last spring Bruce Arians reopened, yet again, the story of Art Rooney II forcing his firing after the Steelers 2011 season.

While unwelcome, Arian’s comments opened the door to a comparison of Ben Roethlisberger’s performance by offensive coordinator. And the numbers painted a clear picture: The Arians-Haley switch worked out well for Roethlisberger, Haley and Arians.

8 games into the 2016 season we know the story isn’t that simple because after 7 starts, Ben Roethlisberger is clearly struggling on the road. The question remains, Is this a new development, or are we only now just noticing? Let’s see what the numbers tell us….

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Ben Roethlisberger hangs his head after losing to the Ravens. Photo Credit: Habeeb, USA TODAY Sports Images

Ben Roethlisberger’s Performance at Home and on the Road by Coordinator

When we first broke down the numbers on Ben Roethlisberger’s performance per coordinator, the focus was on the number of sacks he was taking and his efficiency at gaining yards, throwing touchdowns, and avoiding interceptions.

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Ben Roethlisberger’s performance under different offensive coordinators through 2015

These are all valuable measures, and using those metrics, the change from Bruce Arians to Todd Haley was just what the Dr. ordered. Nary a thought was given to how the variance in Ben Roethlisberger’s performance by venue.

  • Perhaps we should have, because those numbers tell an interesting story.

Ben Roethlisberger’s road record vs. his performance at Heniz Field with Ken Whisenhunt is quite interesting. Overall there’s very little difference between how Roethlisberger performed on the road and at home from 2004 to 2006. In fact, his completion percentage was a little higher, and he still threw more touchdowns than interceptions on the road.

Ben Roethlisberger, Ken Whisenhunt , Ben Roethlisberger road record Ken Whisenhunt, Ben Roethlisberger home record Ken Whisenhunt, Ben Roethlisberger performance Ken Whisenhunt

Ben Roethlisberger & Ken Whisenhunt home & away

On the critical statistic of wins and losses, Ben Roethlisberger’s winning percentage at Heinz Field was only slightly better than on the road. Likewise, his passer rating was only down slightly. It should be noted that, if the “Roethlisberger is a game manager” motif was unfair at this stage of his career, Ben Roethlisberger himself claimed to only be the supporting cast of a roster that included stars like Hines WardJerome Bettis, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu.

  • Mike Tomlin replaced Ken Whisenhunt with Bruce Arians, who made little secret of his intent to loosen Ben’s leash.

Here’s how Ben Roethilsberger’s home and away statictics with Bruce Arians look:

Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Arians, Ben Roehtlisberger and Bruce Arians, Ben Roethlisberger's road record Bruce Arians, Ben Roethlisberger's statistics Bruce Arians

Ben Roethlisberger & Bruce Arians, home and away

Under Bruce Arian’s tutelage we start to see a wider gap emerge between Ben Roethisberger’s performance and record at home, and away from Heinz Field. His completion percentage on the road was down under Arians by 3%, his interceptions were slightly up, but Ben Roethlisberger’s passer rating took a hit on the road under Arians of about ten points. However, the differential between Ben Roethlisberger’s winning percentage at Heinz Field and on the road under Bruce Arians was double what it was under Ken Whisenhunt.

  • So how does Ben Roethlisberger’s record road record and home record vary under Todd Haley’s first four years?

Here’s where the numbers get interesting:

Ben Roethlisberger, Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley, Ben Roethlisberger road record Todd Haley, Ben Roethlisberger statistics Todd Haley

Ben Roethlisberger & Todd Haley at home & away

First, his overall winning percentage under Todd Haley is down, which is part is due to the fact that the Steelers, contrary to Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert’s protests, were rebuilding in 2012 and 2013.

  • And that should show you just how much Ben Roethisberger means to the Steelers.

Because Ben Roethlisberger’s performance, in terms of accuracy, throwing more interceptions, and sacks is better under Todd Haley than it was under Bruce Arians. So credit Todd Haley with doing something right. But don’t pat him on the back too hard….

…You can see that under Todd Haley, Ben Roethlisberger’s performance at home is better than his performance on the road. His completion percentage is stable on the road, but his sack number are up, his interceptions numbers are similar to what they were under Arians, but Ben Roethisberger is throwing far fewer touchdowns on the road, and his passer rating reflects it.

Under Todd Haley’s first four years, for the first time in his career, Ben Roethlisberger has a below .500 winning percentage on the road.

Ben Roethlisberger’s Home and Road Records with Todd Haley by Season

How do these trend play out on a season-by-season basis? The numbers don’t tell us a whole lot, but they do suggest but it is the tendency suggests an alarming trend.

Ben Roethlisberger, Ben Roethlisberger road reacord 2012, Ben Roethlisberger home record 2012, Ben Roethlisberger Todd Haley 2012

Ben Roethlisberger’s road record and home records for 2012

In 2012, there was little difference between Ben Rothlisberger’s performance at home and on the road, except that his winning percentages away from Heinz Field began to dip, but other factors probably account for that.

Ben Roethlisberger, Ben Roethlisberger road record 2013, Ben Roethlisberger passing statistics 2013, Ben Roethlisberger Todd Haley 2013

Ben Roethlisberger’s road record and home records for 2013

Ben Roethlisberger’s performance at Heinz Field in 2013 and on the road was very similar, except that his winning percentage was down, but like 2012 this was probably due to other factors.

Ben Roethlisberger, Ben Roethlisberger home and away record 2014, Ben Roethlisberger statistics 2014, Ben Roethlisberger Todd Haley 2014

Ben Roethlisberger’s road record and home record for 2014

In 2014, Ben Roethlisberger’s road record remains stable, but his performance away from Heinz Field begins to dip in a couple of key areas.

Ben Roethlisberger, Ben Roethlisberger road record 2015, Ben Roetlhisberger statistics 2015

Ben Roethlisberger’s on the road and @ home in 2015

Many of Ben’s performance metrics on the road and at home are stable across the first four years of Todd Haley’s tenure, but the difference in Ben Roethsiberger on the road and Ben Roethlisberger at home gets noticeably bigger in 2014 and 2015 – which lay outside of the Steelers current rebuilding window.

It is in 2014 and 2015 that Ben Roethlisberger starts taking more sacks on the road than he does at home. His touchdown numbers plummet (although they were bad in 2013 too) and his completion percentage dropped by 6% in 2015. Worse yet, Ben Roethlisberger’s winning percentage on the road fell to its worst level in 2015.

Ben Roethlisberger’s Road Record in 2016…

So how are the trends holding up halfway into the 2016 season. Quite frankly, the early returns are not good:

Ben Roethlisberger, Ben Roethlisberger road record 2016, Ben Roethlisberger statistics 2016

Ben Roethlisberger at home & away 8 games into 2016

If you had to write a book on the 2016 Steelers at this point you would title it “A Tale of Two Roethlisbergers.” He’s really looking like two separate quarterbacks at Heinz Field and on the road.

To be fair to Ben NO ONE played well in Philadelphia. And in Miami and at Baltimore Ben was injured. Likewise, against Miami his defense was missing Cameron Heyward and Ryan Shazier, who define the concept of “Difference maker.” Likewise, in Miami Todd Haley inexplicably abandoned the run in a game when Le’Veon Bell was looking like he could take over the game.

And, for most of the season, the Steelers have rotated 4th or 5th WR’s alongside Antonio Brown.

Will Ben Roethlisberger’s Road Struggles Continue?

What to make of all of this? Somewhere out there are probably statics on how a quarterback’s play drops off on the road. My guess is that Ben Roethlisberger’s road record under Ken Whisenhunt was probably better than that average, that it was probably at about that average under Bruce Arians, and is below that under Todd Haley.

Late in their careers, word was that Peyton Manning couldn’t play in the cold and that the wheels fell off Brett Favre after Thanksgiving.

  • Could the late game story on Ben Roethlisberger be that he struggles on the road?

The raw numbers suggest that, but it is impossible and unfair to make that assertion without assessing the performance of the entire defense along with other offensive skill players in question during the timeframes we’re looking it.

Ben Roethlisberger made a name for himself in his second year by leading his team to Super Bowl XL with three straight playoff wins on the road. But the numbers do not lie. Under Todd Haley, Ben Roethlisberger’s road record shows that he struggles when he’s away from  Heinz Field and it would be ironic if that trend defines the latter part of his career.

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Why the Steelers Need a Win vs. Ravens Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium

Most would say a game at the halfway point of the regular season (even one between two division rivals) isn’t a must win.

However, while that may be true for the Steelers, as they travel to Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Ravens this Sunday, they sure could put down a huge deposit on their second AFC North title in the past three years with a victory.

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Antonio Brown Ravens defensive back Will Hill. Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire, USA Today Sports

It’s a lot easier said than done, of course, especially if Landry Jones ends up splitting time with Ben Roethlisberger because surgically repaired meniscus back to health fails to hold up.

  • But just think about what a win over the Ravens this Sunday could mean.

For starters, it would give Pittsburgh (4-3) a two-game lead over the 3-4 Ravens, as well as a 2-0 record in the division.

Furthermore (and while it’s never wise to count your chickens–or victories–before they hatch), the Steelers have two games against the hapless Cleveland Browns over the final eight weeks. The first  tiebreaker to decide division titles is head-to-head, while the second is record within the division. Therefore, you could be talking no worse than a 4-2 record within the AFC North if the Steelers can avoid tanking against Cleveland.

Things haven’t been the greatest for the Steelers lately–including on the injury front. A team that looked like a Super Bowl juggernaut as recently as October 9, following a 31-13 victory over the Jets, suddenly seems frail and unstable.

Additionally, the competency of head coach Mike Tomlin has come into question (yet again); and those Patriots, not only did they go 3-1 at the beginning of the season in the absence of the suspended Tom Brady, they took advantage of Pittsburgh’s quarterback problems with a 27-16 victory at Heinz Field on October 23.

Not only is New England (7-1) in the driver’s seat for a bye and a number one seed, the Steelers are currently the fourth seed in the AFC.

  • But while the Steelers have some work to do with regards to earning at least a second seed, it’s still very early.

The Pittsburgh Steelers may be down, but they’re currently up by one game in the AFC North, and a victory this week would make a lot of folks feel better about the second half of  the 2016 regular season.

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Has Chris Boswell’s Honeymoon with Steelers Nation Ended?

As hard as it is to believe, when Steelers kicker Chris Boswell lined up to attempt a 42-yard field goal in the second quarter of the Steelers loss to the Patriots at Heinz Field, it never actually occurred to me that he might miss.

In-fact, as I watched Chris Boswell’s attempt sail through the air, the football appeared to be heading where it always had so many times before since he became a Steeler last October: right down the middle. When it stayed out to the left (my left as  I watched it on TV, Boswell’s right as he watched it at Heinz Field), I couldn’t believe it and thought I was seeing things when the officials singled that it was no good.

  • Jim Nantz even seemed to pause before annoucing the miss, as if he wasn’t sure he could believe his eyes.
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Has Chris Boswell’s honeymoon with Steelers Nation ended? Photo Credit: Don Wright, Associated Press

This is what happens when a kicker comes out of no where, as it seemed Chris Boswell did one year earlier when he won an in-season tryout and replaced the struggling Josh Scobee, and goes on to make 33 of his first 37 field goal attempts (and one of those misses is a block).

Had that miss happened under normal circumstances, it may not have hurt so much, but since it came just two plays after it appeared Pittsburgh had tied the game at 14 on a touchdown pass from Landry Jones to Darrius Heyward-Bey, it stung just a little more. (Especially on a day when you knew a Ben Roethlisberger late game rescue was out of the question.)

Of course, at the time, I didn’t feel as if Chris Boswell’s honeymoon with Steelers Nation had ended. However, in the fourth quarter, when the young kicker missed a 54-yard field goal after head coach Mike Tomlin (some would  say) inexplicably sent him out there to attempt it with his team trailing by 11 points and only needing three yards to keep the drive going, my brother texted: “Boswell is having a bad game!”

  • After seeing similar sentiments all throughout social media, I began to think the good feelings were over for Boswell.

Is that fair? Probably not. After all, while a 54-yard attempt is far from a sure thing – especially at Heinz Field–a 42-yarder is no gimme, either; coming into Sunday’s game, all three of Boswell’s career misses that weren’t blocks were from between 40 and 49 yards away, so maybe you don’t have to worry about him missing many actual gimmes (kicks from inside 40 yards).

Yes, while the honeymoon part of Boswell’s career may have ended on Sunday, I  don’t think the insanely accurate part of it has. If you use your mind’s eye to go back and re-visit the vast majority of Boswell’s kicks since signing with the Steelers, it’s hard to picture many of them not being dead-center perfect.

What that tells me is whatever it is that Chris Boswell is doing–his approach, his target, his follow-through–is on the money; as long as it stays that way, his accuracy will continue to be closer to the 89 percent it was coming into Sunday’s game, than the 60 percent that it was during it.

Earlier in the year, as I watched yet another one of his kicks evenly split the uprights, I turned to someone and said, “Boswell’s going to be the best kicker in the NFL before long.”

The fact that Chris Boswell is doing what he’s doing just over a year after not being able to find an NFL job, exemplifies just how universally good kickers have become at their craft. Therefore, he may never reach the top of the mountain, but he’ll certainly be in the mix of top NFL kickers for the next several years.

  • So, if you fear Boswell is Heinz Field’s latest victim and that he’ll suddenly become a head-case on par with Kris Brown and Jeff Reed, I don’t think you have to worry about that.

Sometimes, kickers miss field goals. And while Chris Boswell had a bad day on Sunday (relatively speaking–in-addition to his two misses, he also connected from 32, 44 and 46 yards away), he seems to be on his way to having a very good career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Pittsburgh Steelers History vs Washington Redskins

The Pittsburgh Steelers history vs. the Washington Redskins includes 77 contests played over the course of 83 years.

The record reflects that the Washington holds the advantage over Pittsburgh. Overall, the Steelers record vs. the Redskins is 33-43-4. However, the Steelers are 7-4 vs. the Redskins since Chuck Noll’s arrival in Pittsburgh in 1969. The Steelers 2016 season opener on Monday Night Football at FedEx Field will mark the 78 installment of this series.

Art Rooney Sr. was the polar opposite to both George Preston Marshall and Jack Kent Cooke. And about the only similarity between Daniel Rooney and Daniel Snyder is the their first name.

Even if the rest of Steelers Nation isn’t ready to get the pitchforks out for the Redskins, the Steelers history vs. the Washington Redskins has provided a lot of memorable games – for both franchises. With the help of Tony Defeo we recount them here.

Scroll down or click on the link below.

LaMarr Woodley sacks Jason Campbell in Steelers 2008 win over Redskins. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

LaMarr Woodley sacks Jason Campbell in Steelers 2008 win over Redskins. Photo Credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

1979 – Super Steelers Peak Against Redskins

November 4, 1979 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh 38, Washington 7

Terry Bradshaw had his best day passing, to that point in his career. Both Lynn Swann and John Stallworth caught for over 100 yards, for only the second time in their careers. Chuck Noll’s offense totaled 545 yards – his best effort to that point. The Steelers scored 38 points against a Redskins team that entered the game as the stingiest defense in points allowed. It was the worst Redskins loss since 1970… And did we mention that Bradshaw missed most of the second half with a concussion?

  • If the Super Steelers of the 70’s had a single peak moment, the 1979 Redskins victory would be a candidate.

Joe Theismann describes the Redskins effort as “Embarrassing.” John Riggins conceded to John Clayton, then of the Pittsburgh Press:

They’re the defending Super Bowl Champs, and they’re playing at the top of their game now. You expect them to when November rolls around. That’s when the giants tart to wake from their slumber. They were awake today.

Indeed, in addition to the touchdown John Stallworth’s two touchdowns, Terry Bradshaw threw scores to Bennie Cunningham and Randy Grossman, while Rick Moser (who?) scored the Steelers final touchdown. Donnie Shell and Mel Blount both recorded interceptions.

The win over Washington marked the third straight week the 1979 Steelers demolished a playoff contender, with victories over Denver and Dallas preceding it, followed by another win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Key Takeaway from Steelers vs Washington Redskins History: 2 weeks later the 1979 Steelers fell 35-7, suffering their worst defeat in San Diego at the hands of Don Coryell, whose offense was coached by a then-obscure offensive coordinator named Joe Gibbs….

1985 – Redskins “Officially” Send Steelers into 80’s Mediocrity Era

November 24, 1985 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Washington 30, Pittsburgh 23

The 1984 Steelers had shocked the NFL by winning the AFC Central, upsetting John Elway at Mile High in the Divisional Playoff game and knocking on heaven’s door by reaching the AFC Championship. 1985 started with the bang of Mark Malone’s 5 touchdown game vs. the Colts. But that win was led to a 3-5 record at midseason, when a Malone injury led to David Woodley getting the starting nod, who led Pittsburgh to 3 straight wins.

  • Unfortunately, stomach flu would sideline Woodley, forcing Scott Campbell into his first NFL action.

Change was also the watch word in Washington. A week before Lawrence Taylor had sacked Joe Theismann, knocking out of the game and ending his career. Jay Schroeder responded by rallying the Redskins to victory, and started his first game against the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium.

Scott Campbell played a respectable first half, connecting with Louis Lipps and Rich Erenberg to tie the score at the half. However, the Redskins owned the second half, with the Steelers only managing two Gary Anderson field goals as John Riggins ran for a touchdown, while Mark Mosley knocked in two more.

Key Steelers history vs Washington Redskins Takeaway: The 1985 loss to the Redskins dropped the Steelers record to 6-6, signaling 7-9 finish and introducing an era of Pittsburgh would find itself mired in mediocrity.

1988 – Young Steelers Suffer Serious Growing Pains vs. Redskins

September 11, 1988 @ RFK Stadium
Washington 30, Pittsburgh 29

Chuck Noll’s 1988 Steelers won the franchise’s first game without Art Rooney Sr. a week earlier against Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys. Could this young Steelers team upset the Super Bowl champions?

  • For 3 and 3/4 quarters, the 1988 Steelers teased that they could.

Bubby Brister showcased his rocket like arm and his mobility. First hitting Louis Lipps on an 80 pass were Lipps burned future Hall of Famer Darrell Green. Brister then scrabbled for a touchdown, although mistake that proved costly, Harry Newsome bobbled the snap, and the Steelers missed the extra point.

The Redskins pulled a point ahead as the fourth quarter began, but Brister hit Dwight Stone over the middle, Stone zinged past Wilber Marshall and ran 70 yards untouched for a touchdown. Gary Anderson knocked in his 3rd field goal of the game. Midway through the 4th quarter, the Steelers had a nine point lead…

…Yet, in what would be a recurring theme during the 1988 season, Tony Dungy’s defense failed to defend a 4th quarter lead. The Redskins scored quickly on a 74 yard drive, and then Darrell Green returned a punt 13 yards to the Steelers 44, setting up an easy field goal drive.

Just how bad was the Steelers defense? After the game Doug Williams confided in Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “I played terrible in the first half. The offensive line gave me time, and I wasn’t doing my job.” For the record, Williams had what was then a second best passing day for a Redskins quarterback completing 30 of 52 passes for 430 yards.

Key Steelers history vs Washington Redskins Takeaway: The 1988 Steelers would lose several close games like this. But the great individual efforts that powered those “almost wins” revealed that these Steelers had real potential, something that the 1989 Steelers would realize. None of that was apparent as Pittsburgh finished 1988 at 5-11.

1991 – Redskins Render Steelers as Road Kill on Ride to Super Bowl XXVI

November 17th, 1991 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Washington 41, Pittsburgh 14

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins both entered the 1991 season with something to prove. In 1990, the Redskins had gone fallen in the NFC Divisional Playoffs a 49ers team that many assumed were en route to their 5th Super Bowl.

  • The loss carried extra sting in Washington, because only a few years before, it was the Redskins, and not the 49ers who’d been dubbed “The team of the 80’s.”

Although 80’s were over, another Super Bowl would put Redskins back in the conversation.

In contrast, the 1989 Pittsburgh Steelers had shocked the world, overcoming a disastrous start and a regular season that saw them shut out 3 times, only to see them make the playoffs and upset the Oilers in the Astrodome. In 1990 however, the Steelers limped to a 9-7 record, as inconsistency and an inability to win divisional games cost them a playoff game. Steelers Digest Bob Labriola editor remarked that 1990 marked the year the Steelers had either learned to win or to lose games.

  • The Steelers entered 1991 hoping to prove that learned to win.

Sadly, by the time the Redskins arrived at Three Rivers Stadium in week 11, Washington already had an 11-0 record, while Steelers held a 4-6 record, which wasn’t nearly as good as it looked.

The Redskins trashed the Steelers that day, as a Mark Rypien to Art Monk 63 yard hookup led to a 1 yard Gerald Riggs touchdown just four plays into the game. By half time the Redskins led 17-0. After three quarters the Redskins led 27-0.

  • Then the Steelers did what those 1990 and 1991 Chuck Noll teams did all too well – the teased.

Neil O’Donnell hooked up with Adrian Cooper and then Dwight Stone early in the 4th quarter to cut the
Redskin’s lead to 13. Suddenly, it seemed like the Steelers had a chance. Of course they didn’t. Ricky Sanders and Gary Clark hooked up with Rypein from 49 and 40 yards to reestablish the Redskin’s 27 point margin.

Key Steelers history vs Washington Redskins Takeaway: Chuck Noll may hold a 2-1 advantage over Bill Walsh, but the Emperor was 0-3 vs. Joe Gibbs, a statistic that reveals just how great of a coach Joe Gibbs was – and that comes from someone who grew up actively rooting against Gibbs’ Redskins.

1997 – 3 Scappy Steelers Interceptions Seal the Deal

September 7, 1997 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh 14, Washington 13

Just like in 1988, Pittsburgh opened the season with back-to-back games against Dallas and Washington. And like 1988, the Steelers were facing a Cowboys Super Bowl coach who would ultimately be heading into his final campaign. But unlike 1988, the Dallas Cowboys had come into Three Rivers Stadium, trashing the Steelers to the tune of 37-7.

  • So the Redskins arrived in Pittsburgh facing a Steelers team looking for a comeback to defuse the “Free Agency is ruining the Steelers” stories that were a stable of 1990’s.

The Steelers got their comeback win, but the outcome was in doubt until the final gun. For the record, Kordell Stewart rushed for one touchdown, to open the scoring and Jerome Bettis closed it with another touchdown. But the Steelers defense wrote the real story of the game.

Twice in the first half Gus Frerotte led the Washington deep into the Red Zone, and twice Pittsburgh’s defense picked off his pass in the end zone, with Darren Perry and Levon Kirkland splitting the honors. Following Bettis’ touchdown, Frerotte ripped off a perfect pass to Michael Westbrook, only to have Randy Fuller, he of 1995 AFC Championship fame, deflected the pass.

The Redskins had one final chance following the 2 minute warning and threatened to reach field goal range when Jason Gildon tipped a pass that Chris Oldham picked off, ending the game.

Key Steelers history vs Washington Redskins Takeaway: This game established the 1997 Steelers as a scrappy, team that could rally to beat just about anyone during the regular season.

2000 – Steelers Scalp Redskins to Close Three Rivers Stadium

December 16, 2000 @ Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh 24, Washington 3

If ever there was a case study in contrast to who Daniel Rooney and Daniel Snyder run their franchises, the Steelers 2000 victory over the Redskins offers the perfect example.

The 2000 off season marked Daniel Snyder’s first full year as Redskins owner, and he made no bones about breaking from the past. Upon assuming control of the team, Snyder summarily fired dozens of Redskins first office workers, many secretaries and administrative staff, some who’d had decades of service to the team.

  • That meant less to Snyder than showing everyone a new chief was in charge.

The offseason also saw Snyder the first of many off season Lombardi Trophies by signing any and every big name free agent the Redskins could fit under their salary cap. Washingtonians drank the Kool-Aid. Deion Sanders signing earned a front page story in the Washington Post and 2 and a quarter full pages from the sports section. Fans called into radio shows predicting an undefeated season.

Prior to the season opener, an owner at the Wheaton Athletic Club remarked to a patron, “…I’m tired of hearing about Tampa’s injured players. A win is going to be a win.” The client’s response, “Yeah. And a Super Bowl is gonna be a Super Bowl.”

  • Given that the Steelers were coming off a 6-10 season, Redskins fans figured the final game at Three Rivers Stadium would be a road sign route to Lombardi number 4. If they thought of it at all.

By reality unfolds at its own pace. The 2000 Steelers started 0-3, but rallied with 5 straight wins and held a 7-7 record heading into their matchup against Washington. Meanwhile, at 7-6 but on a two game losing streak, Snyder fired Norv Turner. Before the Steelers game, interim coach Terry Robiskie was forced to admit that he’d need to clear any quarterback changes with Snyder.

  • The game itself was a work of beauty. A better send off for Three Rivers Stadium could not be had.

Jerome Bettis rumbled for 104 yards, and Deion Sanders pulled back rather than try to tackle. Chad Scott and Dewayne Washington intercepted Jeff George, Snyder’s anointed starter, two times while future Super Bowl quarterback Brad Johnson watched from the bench.

Key Steelers history vs Washington Redskins Takeaway: When Daniel Snyder objects to Myron Cope’s “Wash Redfaces” nickname for the Redskins, Cope mocks Snyder on the air declaring: “If that boy billionaire thinks he can shut me up, he can take his head and stick it in a bucket of paint.”

2004 – Jerome Bettis Ties Franco Harris Record for 100 Yard Games

November 28th, 2004 @ Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 16, Washington 10

Joe Gibbs return from retirement heading into the 2004 season was one of the biggest stories, as one of the most underrated coaches (nationally) would seek to revive the fortunes of a once proud fantasy. The Pittsburgh Steelers, following their 6-10 2003 campaign, were supposed to be in “Rebuilding” mode, as rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was to get an apprentice year behind Tommy Maddox.

  • But of course things seldom workout as planned.

The Steelers entered their week 12 matchup vs. Washington with a 9-1 record, while Gibbs Redskins had a 3-7 mark. But again, what looked to be a mismatch on paper, turned out to be something very different in reality.

The 2004 Redskins defense was deceptively good, holding the Steelers to a 13-0 lead at half time, thanks to two Jeff Reed Field goal and a Jerome Bettis touchdown (set up by a Antwaan Randle El punt return.) In the third quarter the Redskins made it look like they’d give Pittsburgh a run for their money, as Patrick Ramsey hooked up with Chris Cooley to make the score 13-7.

But another Jeff Reed Field goal, followed by a Deshea Townsend put the game out of reach as on a day where Clark Haggans, Joey Porter and Aaron Smith teamed to sack Patrick Ramsey 5 times.

Key Steelers history vs Washington Redskins Takeaway: With his 4ths straight 100 yard game, Jerome Bettis tied Franco Harris’ franchise record for 100 yard games. Not bad for a player supposedly getting a “scholarship” year.

2008 – Steelers Nation Anexxes over Fed ExField

November 3, 2008 @ FedEx Field
Pittsburgh 23, Washington 6

For a Steelers fan who grew up in Metro Washington DC subjected to an endless stream of “Are you a Redskins fan?” “No,” “Then you’re a Cowboy in Redskins territory….” The Steelers 2008 Monday night win at FedEx Field was a portrait of glory.

Fans forget in hindsight that this game did not start out well for the Steelers. Bob Ligashesky’s special teams botched a surprise on-sides kick to open the game, followed by another Steelers turnover deep in their own territory. Redskins fans at FedEx Field were fired up, as Washington led for the first 29:28 of the first half until Ben Roethlisberger put the Steelers ahead with a rushing touchdown.

  • With Byron Leftwich taking over for an injured Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers defense took over.

James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley, Nick Eason, Aaron Smith, James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons, who saw his first extended action – at outside linebacker, combined for 7 sacks, and Tyrone Carter end a Jason Campbell streak of 271 passes without an interception.

Best of all, before it was all over, Steelers fans had taken over FedEx Field to the point where the Redskins were forced to use a silent count.

Key Steelers history vs Washington Redskins Takeaway: Jim Zorn’s Redskins were 5-2 heading into the game, looking to make “statement.” Instead, the Steelers made a statement that they were serious Super Bowl contenders.

2012 – Dick LeBeau Schools RGIII

October 12, 2012 @ Heinz Field
Pittsburgh 27, Washington 12

In 2012 Robert Griffith III, or RG3 was a rookie sensation that was shaking the NFL. After just 7 games pundit were already saying that RG3 was doing what Doug Flutie, Randall Cunningham, Steve McNair and Donovan McNabb had promised to do in earlier generations – prove that you could win big with a non-pocket passer.

  • Worse yet, the Steelers 2012 defense had been shaky, having failed to protect 4th quarter leads on 3 separate occasions.

Dick LeBeau answered by unleashing his defensive backs on the Redskins wide receivers, and the Steelers corners and safeties hit hard. This led to numerous drops on the part of the Redskins’ receivers. On offense, Todd Haley did his best Ron Ernhart impression, as the Steelers fed the ball to Jonathan Dwyer and dominated time of possession, keeping the ball for over 33 minutes as the Steelers beat the Redskins 27-12.

Key Steelers history vs Washington Redskins Takeaway: Dick LeBeau improves his record to 15-1 against rookie quarterbacks. For the Record RGIII finished the day 16-34-177, 1 touchdown and 8 yards rushing. Need we say more?

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Ben Roethlisberger shines as Steelers blow-out Colts

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns, as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Colts, 45-10, in a dominate performance at Heinz Field before a national audience on Sunday Night Football.

Roethlisberger looked sharp most of the night and torched Indianapolis’ defense for the second time in two seasons (he passed for 522 yards and six touchdowns in a 51-34 victory over the Colts at Heinz Field on October 26, 2014), but the  rest of the offense shined as well.

Running back DeAngelo Williams rushed for 134 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Receiver Antonio Brown caught eight passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, while fellow wide-outs Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton combined for seven receptions, 164 yards and two touchdowns–including 114 yards by Bryant, who went 68 yards for his score.

The offensive line, down one starter since Week 1 and down two starters since left-tackle Kelvin Beachum tore his ACL on October 18, looked about as cohesive as it has all season, as the Steelers rushed for 158 yards as a team, while Roethlisberger wasn’t sacked once despite attempting 39 passes.

  • However, as impressive as the offense looked, the defense may have been even more critical to such a sound and dominant victory.

It looked like it was going to be a long night, when Jacoby Jones, recently claimed off waivers, fumbled the opening kickoff, and the Colts’ recovered at the Pittsburgh 11-yard line. However, three plays later, outside linebacker Jarvis Jones intercepted a pass from quarterback Matt Hasselback at the one-yard line and thwarted the drive. But four plays after Jones rescued the defense, the offense put it back in peril, when Williams fumbled, and the Colts recovered at the Steelers 27. Pittsburgh’s defense held firm once again, and limited Indianapolis to eight yards on three plays, forcing a 35-yard field goal by veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri.

  • What could have been a 10-0 or even 14-0 deficit very early in the first quarter was merely three points, as the defense set the tone for the rest of the evening.

After the Steelers answered Vinatieri’s field goal with a 29-yarder by Chris Boswell, the defense came through again on Indianapolis’ next offensive possession. On third and 15, Hasselback’s pass was tipped by cornerback William Gay and intercepted by Brandon Boykin in a diving catch that was confirmed by replay and set Pittsburgh’s offense up at the Colts’ 38. The offense couldn’t fully take advantage and had to settle for another Boswell field goal–this one from 51-yards away–and a 6-3 lead.

The Colts took a 10-6 lead midway through the second quarter on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Hasselback to running back Frank Gore (who also gashed Pittsburgh’s defense on a few rushing plays in the first half).

But just when it looked like it would be a back-and-forth struggle between two AFC teams battling for playoff berths, the Steelers put the peddle to the metal, scoring 39 unanswered points–including  two touchdowns on their last two possessions of the first half and a touchdown on their first possession of the second half to take a 28-10 lead and effectively put the game on ice with over 27 minutes left to play.

After giving up five touchdown passes to Russell Wilson in the 39-30 loss at Seattle a week earlier, the Steelers defense held Indianapolis to just 240 yards of total offense, recorded five quarterback sacks–including three by veteran outside linebacker James Harrison–and forced three turnovers.

After Jones almost lost another fumble on a punt return in the second quarter, he was replaced by Brown, who would ultimately close out the scoring late in the fourth quarter with a 71-yard punt return that included a rather bizarre celebration, when he leaped crotch-first onto the goal post before falling to the end zone turf.

The impressive victory improved the Steelers record to 7-5 and moved them up to seventh place in the AFC behind both the Chiefs and Jets, who are also 7-5 but currently hold the two wild card spots based on tiebreakers.

Next up for the Steelers is a trip to Paul Brown Stadium to take on the 10-2 Bengals this Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

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Report Card for Steelers Week 8 Loss to Bengals at Heinz Field

Quarterback 

It’s not often a team loses after the defense comes up with interceptions on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter of a four-point game. Yet, this is what happened to the Steelers on Sunday, thanks to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s ineffective play for most of the afternoon that included two interceptions on two straight passes late in the final period that set-up Cincinnati’s final 10 points in a 16-10 defeat. After going five of six for 43 yards on the game’s opening drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown pass to receiver Antonio Brown, Roethlisberger was 23 of 39 for 219 yards the rest of the game. He threw three interceptions in total and made many poor decisions. Grade: Dsteelers, report card, grades, Bengals

Running Backs 

It’s obviously hard to accurately evaluate the performance of the running backs on Sunday, considering Le’Veon Bell left the game early with what was later determined to be a season-ending MCL tear. Before Bell left, he looked to be on his way to another stellar performance, as he picked up 45 yards on 10 carries and another 13 yards on two receptions. DeAngelo Williams, Bell’s replacement down-the-stretch, added 71 yards on on nine carries, but 55 of those came on one run. Grade: C+

Tight Ends 

Heath Miller had his best game of the season on Sunday, catching 10 passes for 105 yards. He was clearly the most effective target for Roethlisberger, as the wide receivers did very little most of the day. Miller was called for two penalties, including a holding penalty early in the fourth quarter on first and 10 from Cincinnati’s 25 that effectively knocked the Steelers out of field-goal range. Grade: B+

Wide Receivers 

It was basically a bad day for the Steelers receivers, going up against Cincinnati’s decent corps of defensive backs. While Miller posted 105 yards, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton combined for 104 yards on 11 receptions. Not good. Furthermore, there were some key drops, including one in the end zone by Martavis Bryant. Grade: D

Offensive Line

Roethlisberger was sacked three times on 45 passing attempts but was harassed a good bit of the afternoon. However, the line did do a decent enough job opening holes for the running game, as the backs averaged 6.1 yards on 19 carries.

Unfortunately, penalties proved to be huge for the hogs up front. Pittsburgh totaled 91 penalty yards as a team on Sunday, and several of those were holding calls on the offense–including a critical one by guard Ramon Foster midway through the third quarter, on a play where Roethlisberger scrambled up the middle for 10 yards down to the Bengals eight yard-line on third and six. Instead of having a first and goal situation, the offense was pushed back to the 28 and ultimately had to settle for a Chris Boswell 32-yard field-goal. One will never know if that drive would have resulted in a touchdown, but in a close game, it certainly could have changed the outcome. Grade: C-

Defensive Line

Despite missing defensive end Stephon Tuitt for a second-straight game, the Steelers defensive line was a disruptive force. Steve McLendon, who normally plays nose tackle in the base defense, filled in for Tuitt at defensive end, while second-year man Daniel McCullers played nose tackle. The results were pretty stellar, as the front-seven pressured Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton all afternoon, sacking him three times–including one by McLendon. Cincinnati managed just 78 yards on the ground and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. Grade: A-

Linebackers 

There was some fear that Tyler Eifert, the Bengals budding star of a tight end, would have a field-day against a Pittsburgh defense that normally struggles to defend high-pedigree tight ends. However, Eifert was held to just 39 yards on four catches. On the pass-rushing front, Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones and rookie Bud Dupree were credited with two of the defense’s three sacks. Grade: B

Secondary

Much like Cincinnati’s defensive backs, the Steelers secondary held the Bengals explosive receivers in-check most of the afternoon. A.J. Green did rack-up 118 yards on 11 catches and scored the game-winning touchdown, but his longest reception of the day was 38 yards (also the longest the defense allowed all afternoon) and averaged just 10.7 yards a catch. Aside from Green, Cincinnati’s other targets combined for just 113 yards on 12 receptions and averaged just 9.4 yards per catch. The interception that cornerback Antwon Blake came up with early in the fourth quarter, when he picked off a Dalton pass in the end zone on third and goal from the five and returned it to Pittsburgh’s 40 would be something fans and reporters would be talking about at great-length had the Steelers won the game. It was a great all-around effort by a unit that has rightly been criticized a lot in recent years. Grade: A-

Special Teams 

Kicker Chris Boswell was perfect again–converting an extra point and a field goal–and punter Jordan Berry placed three kicks inside the 20. Defensive end Cam Heyward blocked a field-goal late in the third quarter, when Cincinnati was trying to pull to-within a single point. On the return front, Dri Archer didn’t make it out to the 20 on his only two kickoff returns, and Antonio Brown was held in-check on punt returns, as the team wasn’t credited with a single return on the day. The coverage unit was decent enough, but Adam Jones did average 16.5 yards on two punt returns. Grade: C+

Coaching 

You have to give credit to defensive coordinator Keith Butler for calling a great game. His defense really did deserve better, after limiting the Bengals to just six points until late in the fourth quarter when Roethlisberger threw his back-to-back interceptions.

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has been widely criticized (and rightfully so) for too many deep passes against a Bengals secondary that clearly had that play covered all afternoon. Again, while Miller was totalling 105 yards, many on underneath routes, the receivers could do very little downfield all afternoon.

For the second time in a month, head coach Mike Tomlin’s team had a division rival on the ropes late in a game at Heinz Field and let that rival off the hook, thanks to self-inflicted wounds. Now, instead of the Steelers being 2-0 in the AFC North, they’re 0-2 and three-and-a-half games back of first place.

And while it wasn’t necessarily Tomlin’s fault that Roethlisberger threw those two picks at the end of the game, you can question his decision to punt from the 35-yard line early in the fourth quarter, rather than send Boswell out to try a 52 yard field-goal. Sure, it was at the open-end of the stadium, and yes, a miss would have given the Bengals premium field-position in a close game, but Pittsburgh was up by four-points at the time. Considering Boswell’s range early in his Steelers career, it was worth the risk at that juncture. Grade: C- 

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Chris Boswell’s NCAA Kicking Stats Reveal Versatile Athlete

2015 has not been kind to kickers. The tendency is true league wide, and nowhere is it more true than in Pittsburgh. Shaun Suisham tearing an ACL during the Hall of Fame game was bad. Perhaps Jeff Reed getting ejected during the same game was an even worse omen.

  • In came Garrett Hartwell. Out went Garret Hartell.
  • The Steelers traded for Josh Scobee
  • Josh Scobee missed 5 of 17 kicks
  • Steelers cut Josh Scobee (who, if his agent is to be believed, is nursing a quad injury)

The Steelers have signed Chris Boswell who played his college ball at Rice University. One of the interesting things about Chris Boswell is that he knows how to nail an on sides kick:

That’s some fancy footwork.

Will it fool hardened NFL special teamers? Probably not, but it’s good to know he possesses that caliber of athletic talent. And lest ye forget, while Shaun Suisham’s absence is painfully felt in Pittsburgh this year, Suisham was 0-3 in kicking recoverable on-sides kicks in both 2013 and 2014.

  • But if things go well, the Steelers won’t need Boswell to attempt too many on-sides kicks.

Boswell’s job will be to put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs and split the uprights at all other times. Looking at Chris Boswell’s NCAA kicking stats from his time at Rice University, Boswell did pretty well.

steelers, Chris Boswell, NCAA, kicking stats, punter,

Chris Boswell’s NCAA Kicking Stats

  • And you’ll notice, place kicking isn’t all that Boswell does.

Chris Boswell also punts. In fact, he got his first tryout for the Houston Texans as a punter. In the 2014 preseason he punted 14 times for and totaled 619 yards for an average of 44.2 yards. Those aren’t Jordan Berry numbers (on a good day) but they’re not bad.

Boswell also kicked a field goal for the Texans in preseason but, more ominously, he also missed two extra points. As noted when the Steelers signed Boswell, he made 4 of 4 field goal attempts for the Giants in the 2015 preseason.

  • Like one of his predecessors, Jeff Reed, Boswell won the job by kicking at Heinz Field.

As a Texas native and an alum of Rice University, Boswell doesn’t have experience kicking in the cold and windy Northeast, experience that Mike Tomlin cited when the Steelers signed Sushiam in 2010. But when asked about his try out by Jim Wexell’s Steel City Insider, Boswell revealed:

Yes. It was good. It was an experience. It was pouring rain and windy, and all the elements you want. I hear it gets pretty bad up here so it was kind of a good test and good competition as well.

At the very least, Boswell has necessary attitude for kicking successfully at Heinz Field. Will that attiude translate in to success in pressure situations? Time will tell. For now all we can say is “Welcome to Steelers Nation Chris Boswell.”

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Steelers Trade 6th Round Pick for Josh Scobee

The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had much luck with place kickers during this 2015 preseason. First the Steelers lost veteran Shaun Suisham  to a torn ACL in the Hall of Fame Game. That led the team to sign Garrett Hartley, who looked pretty solid, but Hartley ended up injuring himself during the Steelers debacle vs. the Bills.

  • And there’s still 1 more preseason game to go….

That scenario saw the Steelers trade a 6th round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for place kicker Josh Scobee. This is the second trade the Steelers have made this off season, having given up a conditional pick to get Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Schobee has kicked in the NFL since 2004 but a training camp battle with rookie Jason Myers made him expendable. The trade was contingent on the Jacksonville Jaguars picking up part of Josh Schobee’s salary, which they agreed to do.

While not as accurate as Shaun Suisham, Schobee has proven himself to be an accurate kicker during his NFL career, and has a strong leg for kickoffs. What he does lack, however, is a proven ability to play in the elements, which can be a particular test at Heinz Field.

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