The Silver Lining: Even without a title, Steelers' season had plenty of highlights | Smack and Gold | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Silver Lining: Even without a title, Steelers' season had plenty of highlights

Pittsburgh will remain Sixburgh for at least another year, and if the Steelers are fortunate enough to reach the Super Bowl again next season, puns on "seven" will flow aplenty once more: Stairway to Seven; Knockin' on Seven's Door; Seventh Heaven; etc. 

Maybe we should blame Mean Joe Greene for Pittsburgh's obsession with championship catchphrases? After the Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl ring in 1980, a light bulb went on in his head: One for the Thumb in '81

Greene's rallying cry/marketing campaign was so catchy, Pittsburghers used it until we actually got our thumb-ring in 2006. Hopefully we can use the time without a title to come up with something a little more imaginative than Knockin' on Seven's Door.

If No. 7 (the missed title opportunity and our QB who wasn't able to pull off another Super Bowl miracle) is still weighing heavily on your mind, here is a septuplet of happier moments from the Steelers' almost-championship season:

7) Mendenhall's Runoff TD (Week 1)

Troy Polamalu's graceful, late-fourth quarter interception became moot after Jeff Reed missed what would have been a game-winning field goal. But on the Steelers' first possession in overtime, Rashard Mendenhall zipped 50 yards downfield for the game-winning touchdown.

6) WANTED: James Harrison (Week 6)

In professional wrestling they call it a "squash" match: a contest where a larger individual manhandles a smaller one. Pittsburgh's match-up with Cleveland was remembered less for Ben Roethlisberger's return from suspension and more for James Harrison's pulverizing hits on Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs.  

The NFL subsequently changed the rules of football -- although they claimed they were just enforcing the rules already in place -- and put James Harrison on their most-wanted list.

5) Divine Intervention (Week 12)

Trying to keep pace with Baltimore in the AFC North, the Steelers' piece-of-cake game with the Buffalo Bills turned out to be anything but. In overtime, Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick hurled a perfect pass to Steve Johnson, who was waiting in the end zone with open arms -- arms that wouldn't be able to grab a pass Limas Sweed could've caught blindfolded. Following Buffalo's loss, Johnson logged onto his Twitter account and blamed God.  

4) I Believe Troy Can Fly (Week 14)

With the Steelers losing 7-0 to the Bengals late in the second quarter, Troy Polamalu -- as he often does when our offense goes flat -- took matters into his own hands. After intercepting a pass from Carson Palmer at mid-field, Polamalu darted down the left sideline (on what we later learned was an injured ankle). When Palmer lunged at him inside the 5-yard line, Polamalu did his best impersonation of an anime cartoon and soared through the air while holding the ball out over the goal line.

3) Troy Saves the Day (Week 13)

The Steelers were minutes from losing to the Ravens, which would have given our divisional rivals a one-game lead with four weeks left in the season, until ... Troy Polamalu swatted Joe Flacco's passing arm, causing him to lose grip of the football, which Lamar Woodley was more than happy to pick up. A few plays later, the Steelers won the game, and a few weeks later, they won the division.

2) Antonio's Helmet Catch (divisional playoffs)

Late in the fourth quarter, the Steelers and Ravens were tied 24-24. On third-and-19 from the Steelers' 38, Ben Roethlisberger heaved a pass high across the Pittsburgh skyline with Antonio Brown nervously chasing down its shadow. The Steelers' rookie wide receiver got his hands under the ball, but was unable to maintain possession until he pinned it against the side of his helmet as he ran out of bounds.

Brown's 58-yeard catch led to the Steelers' game-winning touchdown. One week later, Brown would get his hands on another crucial third-down conversion as the Steelers iced the Jets on their way to Super Bowl XLV.

1) The Old College Try (Super Bowl XLV)

Following a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, the Steelers -- who'd been down by as many as 18 points -- trailed 28-23. Deciding to go for a two-point conversion, Pittsburgh ran college football's play of choice: the option. After Antwaan Randle El crossed the goal line, the Steelers were only a field goal away from tying the game, and Super Bowl parties across Pittsburgh were once again filled with hope. 

Because without hope what are we? Oh yeah, Cleveland Browns fans.

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