Looking at the lowlights of the last 24 years

Getty Images

With the NFL possibly on track to miss its first regular-season games due to labor strife since 1987 and with the flow of offseason news slowing down considerably, we need to start generating content for PFT Live.

So here’s what we’ll do.  In each of the next 32 shows, we’ll look at the worst moments for each franchise since the last work stoppage.  If nothing else, thinking about the really, really bad times could make you feel less bad about having no football.  If, after all, there’s no football, there can be no really, really bad times.

Let’s start with one of the best teams of the past 24 years — the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Nominate the best worst moments in the comments, and then hash it out among yourselves.  We’ll give it all some thought and add the discussion to tomorrow’s show.

87 responses to “Looking at the lowlights of the last 24 years

  1. For the Dolphins: 1st round draft picks, Ricky Williams fiasco, Marino’s last game, Parcells era, 1-16.

  2. A couple quick noms:

    Neil O’Donnell’s performance in SB XXX.

    That infamous Phil Luckett coin toss in the Steelers/Lions Thanksgiving game.

  3. Face it, for the Bengals, it’s going to have to be a ‘body of work’ thing, not just one event.

    But if you insist… the Kimo-dive for Carson’s knee edges out Chris Henry’s death, by just a bit. Because when Palmer went down, the dream was dead.

  4. September 20, 1987 Bengals/Niners.

    It’s 20 years later and no one has yet to figure just exactly how the Bengals lost, 27-26, on Sept. 20, 1987 at Riverfront to the 49ers. Except to say that the Niners are still riding on the Bill Walsh-Joe Montana Karma from the Goal-line Stand in the Super Bowl five years before.
    This time Walsh, the former Bengals assistant, pulls one over on one of his old students, Bengals head coach Sam Wyche. The Bengals are protecting a 26-20 lead when they get the ball on their own 45 with 54 seconds left.
    But like some vampire, the clock won’t die on three Boomer Esiason quarterback kneel downs. Throw in a delay of game and with six seconds left from the Bengals 30, Wyche opts to run a sweep to James Brooks instead of punting. Brooks gets stopped with two seconds left and that’s all Montana needs to find Jerry Rice and the Hall of Fame connection burns rookie cornerback Eric Thomas for a 25-yard touchdown pass as time expires before 53,498 stunned onlookers.
    The play basically blows up what would have been a 2-1 season. The Bengals have an extra month to stew about it because of the labor disruption that resulted in one canceled game and three games with replacement players. By the time everyone gets settled, the Bengals win just two games the rest of the way to finish 4-11, a curious record sandwiched between a 10-6 in 1986 and 12-4 in 1988.
    Don’t blame the strike. Blame Walsh and Montana, who end up waiting in the weeds in another Super Bowl not very far off.

  5. Either the Phil Luckett Thanksgiving overtime coin flip, or the 2001 AFC Championship game against the Patriots.

  6. After 05 season- Won an admitadly fixed super bowl, lost jerome bettis, but on the bright side Bill Coward left.

  7. sucking wind the year after each sb victory

    or generally losing afc championship games at home

  8. Just watching them play in general. Id rather slam my finger in the hinge side of a door. 2 yard run, 2 yard run, broken pass play, 2 yard run. Don’t think I’ve ever seen raplisberger drop back and throw the ball on time, always runnin aroud playin schoolyard ball.

  9. The lowest of the low for me was in the 80s getting down on my hands and knees EVERY Sunday and praying for a career ending injury to Mark Malone. He sucked SO BAD. He ended John Stallworth’s and Louis Lipps’ careers by – every time – throwing BEHIND them by two yards OVER THE MIDDLE and making them take vicious hits trying to make circus catches of what should have been very simple five yard passes.

    BTW …… Kimo twisting Palmer’s knee was just WELL DESERVED payback for that Bungle a-hole Thurmon? taking an unobstructed dirty, filthy, cheapshot, seven yard run and diving and spearing Roethlisberger in the kneecap which Cowher would rightfully did not let the Bungles get away with.

  10. The absolutely worse moment in the entire history of the Detroit Lions was the dark day that Matt Millen was brought on board as the CEO of the team in 2001. During the next 7 years Millen wreaked as much, and perhaps more, destruction on the Lions as George Bush did on the nation during the same time period.

  11. Arrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!! I clicked on this article and saw …. Neil O’Donnell in a Steelers uniform. 😯 Make it stop!!!!!

    My three worsts as a Steelers fan in the last 24 years …

    1. Losing Super Bowl XXX. For whatever reason, losing SBXLV didn’t come close for me. I spent every commercial break of SBXXX’s fourth quarter dry-heaving in the bathroom. Larry Brown’s second interception literally felt like a knife through my heart. Couldn’t sleep for days afterward. Three months after SBXLV, I can barely remember we were in the Super Bowl. Fifteen years after SBXXX, it still hurts. 😥

    2. Losing Rod Woodson to free agency. That’s when I understood how football had changed. You can love players, but you can never love one too much because no matter how identified they are with the team, they may leave and wind up playing for your worst enemies. (But I still love him.)

    3. Losing the 2004 conference championship to the Pats. We were riding high on Roethlisberger’s undefeated rookie romp and it looked as though we might roll right into our first Super Bowl victory since Bradshaw. Then the Pats wiped the floor with us. Gosh, I hate the Pats.

  12. Apparently some of you guys need to work on your reading comprehension because he’s collecting stories from Steelers fans and will collect stories on your pitiful lil teams later.

    @dave kiid …

    Darlin’, we’ve all congratulated the Packers repeatedly, but you won by less than a touchdown in a game that went down to the final play. That is not a spanking, little one. No wonder they call you kid. 🙄

  13. @contraryguy …

    Kimo rolled into Carson–as even Carson said. You guys have sure built a lifetime whining over a single play. You wouldn’t have won that game and haven’t done a bloody thing since. Grow up and get over it.

  14. There was that whole serial rapist thing…..

    Which I don’t think they ever put an actual stop to….unless you count the Honor System. And really, when talking about a serial rapist, why wouldn’t you accept the Honor System?

  15. The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most disgraceful organizations in any league. Their track record of condoning criminal behavior should put the Rooney family on par with the Soprano family. I think the only way they could sink any lower is if they started drafting convicted terrorists from Guantanamo Bay.

  16. Easy. The lowlight for the entire NFL was the Ben Roethlisberger situation. The alleged rape was bad enough, but the fact that he was allowed to remain in the league was a huge black mark on the game.

  17. Big Ben controversy
    coin toss debacle
    Odonnell’s mystery pick in the SB
    general field conditions
    any time Polamalu is off the field due to injury

  18. Clearly, the absolute lowest of the lowlights comes from Cleveland when, A) the Browns were moved to Baltimore, and B) when Baltimore the Super Bowl.

  19. I don’t think you guys are getting the point.

    You post your low moments for the team they are talking about in that post. So we’re on the Steelers now, post your low moments for THEM and you can bitch about your other teams later.

  20. I will nominate Bill Cower shoving the print-out into the pocket of the referee proving that the Steelers, indeed, should not have been called for 12 men on the field. It was a nationally televised game (maybe thanksgiving?) and Cower basically lost it.

  21. The Steelers are a low moment Dagnon13. They need to be disbanded and their players without criminal tendencies (all two of them) sent to other teams. I’m afraid of what could happen to this country though if Steelers get loose and start dispersing out into the wilds of the American heartland. Like the Sex Offender registry, they’ll probably have to make a Pittsburgh Steeler Registry to warn people when one of them joins their community. How can you even narrow down all their problems? Their QB is a psycho, their receivers do drugs, their linesmen hit women, break their doors down, break their phones. Their mascot got arrested for a DUI I think and their kicker was a mess too.

  22. golonger: I am not a Browns fan, nor do I live anywhere near Cleveland. Thank you for so eloquently alerting me to the error of my ways though.

  23. I certainly remember Neil hitting Larry Brown in the numbers twice………but a year you make it to the Super Bowl shouldn’t really be a lowlight.

  24. @KyleOrtonsArm is it safe to say that you are bitter at the Steelers for something? U mad bro?

  25. I see we have peopel who can not read the headlines.. It says the worse last 24 years, 1987, for the PITTSBURGH STEELERS! Not the Bungals, K.C. Chefs, Dolphins or any other team!
    Malone was doen playing for the Steelers in 87!
    1. The worse had to be losing to the Cowpokes and O’Donnell throwing the game!
    2. Losing to the Pats in AFC Championship game after going 15-1.
    3. Losing to cancer survivor hater Packers by giving them 21 points off turnovers.
    4. Phil Luckett coin toss even though Charles Johnson dropped a TD pass earlier int eh game people forget!
    5. Too many great memories l;ast 24 year then any other team has by far!]
    6. We have 6 Super Bowl rings..DO YOU?????

  26. I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the “3 more yards” AFC Championship against the Chargers the year before Neil O’Donnell made BFFs with Larry Brown.

    Considering the time frame we’re working with literally spans my entire life and that game and Super Bowl XXX are a tad on the vague side for me, I’ll go more recently.

    The 2004 AFCCG made me strongly consider calling it quits as a football fan. Being 24, I grew up with NOTHING but close-but-no-cigar seasons from the Steelers in the 90’s/early 00’s. For the team to go 15-1 that year , though, and the magic way they seemed to pull some of those games off — the Doug Brien escapade the week before, Big Ben breaking out and his last second drives, etc — I thought it was destiny. So when they lost as bad as they did to the Pats in the AFCC, I became convinced I would never see it happen and started wondering how healthy it was for me to care so much.

    Most bad games taste sour for the rest of the day, this one lasted a week. The contrast of finally winning the whole thing the following year makes this moment stand out even more. Never forget it…

  27. @lov3likerockets …

    kyleortonsarm trolls all Steelers’ threads posting his nutty little comments. He apparently slept through all the Bronco arrests last year. He is terribly bitter. Isn’t it delicious? 😉

    @FinFan68 …

    I give you credit for actually grasping the purpose of the article and attempting to answer Mike’s question even though you’re not a Steelers fan. The Roethlisberger thing was an off-field incident. To me, the worst thing about the coin toss (other than Luckett’s incompetence) was the Steelers screwing around in that game and allowing it to go to overtime.

  28. For me, I’m defining “worst” as most disappointing moments:

    (1) By FAR the worst was losing the AFC championship game at home to the crappy Chargers. That was easily the best Steeler team I’ve seen since the 70s, and would have led to an epic SB against the niners, instead of the snoozefest we ended up with

    (2) AFC championship game 2001 against Pats. The start of a decade long debacle of horrendous special teams miscues that cost us dearly.

    (3) O’donnell’s INT in SB XXX. To this day many, many of us truly believe that awful pick 6 was evidence that O’donnell, the QB with the lowest int % in league history was paid to throw the game. As Deb said, that game still hurts 15 yrs later.

    (4) The pre-Ben QB situation, in particular the Bubby Brister years

  29. The Steelers drafting Gabe Rivera in 1983 with Dan Marino, a local Pitt boy, still on the board? That sucked. Bring on Bubby Brister in ’86!

    Or maybe Huey Richardson in the first round of 1991… Brett Favre was drafted in the second round that year.

  30. dsullivan9026 says:
    May 22, 2011 7:37 PM
    During the next 7 years Millen wreaked as much, and perhaps more, destruction on the Lions as George Bush did on the nation during the same time period.
    Dammit…….why the hell do people have to go to talking politics in a football forum? It really has no place. Yes, the country was in the tank before, during, and after your favorite president.

    Get over it. Talk football. I come here to get away from frickin’ political pissin’ and moaning. Enough already.

    Talk about other teams. Talk about other players. But for the love of your favorite deity, quit the political crud.

    And don’t give me the “I have the right” BS either. Just use your heads and sling mud on other forums. They are out there.

    This is football. Let’s talk FOOTBALL!

  31. justincliburn…………right, you’re 2 worst moments just HAPPENED to be Brownstain-related????……..give me a break…….LOL

  32. As a browns fan I find it hard for you to figure out what the lowest point would be in a single segment.

  33. The non-draft of Marino by a mile. Lay the blame on Bradshaw who had injured his throwing arm over the winter and hid the injury from the medical staff. The addition of Marino boggles the mind of what could have been possible in the 1980’s.

  34. @palinforpresidentofnorthkorea …..

    Bravo. That was pure genius.


    So very, very true. But even IF he made a chip shot, you really think Marty could have parlayed it into a Championship?

    Sadly, I don’t.

  35. The O’Donnell Super Bowl craptavaganza. I dunno what happened to the guy but he was never the same. The only plus out of that was the contract that DB got out of it from Oaktown.

    I mean, the guy wasn’t that good, yet over nite he got a contract making Deon Sanders money. And O’Donnell was never the same, like he got exposed or something?

    The highlight was the bus returning to Detroit and getting a ring. It was just nice for the guy and such a team effort all around. I know every year there’s one of these stories, but I’m always a sucker for ’em… I’m tearing up already!!!

    Over all, not a bad 24 years for the Steelers.

  36. For the Steelers its the Big Ben rape incident. Sadly for the rest of the teams mentioned here I’m going to go with “Fans not smart enough to realize this article wasn’t about them”.

  37. 1. Neil O’Donnell, owner of the lowest interception percentage in NFL history (2.11 %) and his picks.
    2. The coin toss. Rubbish. The karma was restored via Megatron and the catch the wasn’t.

    @kyleorton – Does Mom know you’re not in bed yet?

    @the kiid – At least your team has class. Shouldn’t you be a Ravens fan?

  38. Minnesota Vikings-

    1987 Darrin Nelson dropped a 6 yard touchdown pass with :57 left in the NFC Championship Game that would have tied the game.

    1989 LB Jesse Solomon, DB Issiac Holt, RB Darrin Nelson, LB David Howard, DE Alex Stewart) and six draft picks (which led to Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson) for Herschel Walker.

    1998 15-1. Gary Anderson’s only miss is a field goal that would have iced the NFC Championship Game. Falcons win in OT.

    2000 Lost NFC Championship Game 41-0.

    2001 Korey Stringer dies during training camp.

    2003 Vikings start out 6-0 and finish 9-7 with the Cardinals beating them on the final play of the season, allowing the Packers to win the division.

    2005 Vikings trade Randy Moss to Oakland for Napoleon Harris and Troy Williamson.

    2006 Vikings hire Brad Childress

    2009 Vikings lose NFC Championship Game in OT to Saints

    2010 Brad Childress fired, Metrodome roof collapses, and everything else sucked.

  39. 2004 Game against the pats. I could not watch ANYTHING doing with football for 3 months after that game. I literally was sick after that game.

    SB XXX was a knife to the heart.

    This is a strange one, BUT when the brownies left Cleveland. This left a huge void in a very long rival. I hate to admit it, but when the brownies had left, the season did not seem right without those 2 games.

  40. I think Kordell getting crying on the sideline after getting yanked against Tampa was a serious lowlight.

    O’Donnell’s horrible SB was a bad one as well.

    The AFC Championship flops were bad, especially against the Chargers.

  41. The Neil O’donnel to Larry Brown connection. I had to stop watching after the second pick.

    The Steelers/Miami mud bowl, that was an embarassment.

    2004 AFCCG, freaking Tom Brady.

    The Big Ben off field issues, right or wrong it brought too much negative attention to the team.

  42. @stairwayto7

    “Losing to cancer survivor hater Packers”

    Your self-righteousness is hilarious, considering you root for the one organization that cannot look down their nose at this.

  43. Dr. Richard Rydze.
    For 22 years the Steelers team doctor. In 2007 caught with $150,000 of HGH, and “resigned” after claiming he never gave any to the Steelers players.

    The Steelers condoning domestic abuse when they keep wife beater James Harrison.

    Roethlisberger. Need I say more about that?

    The blatantly racist Rooney Rule.

    I don’t care what they’ve accomplished on the field, the behavior of not just the players, but the front office and the owners of the Steelers is a disgrace and a blight on the National Football League.

  44. 5. Tie, 15-1 getting trounced by NE or the whole Kent Graham Experiment, he made Kordell look like a real QB!

    4. Coin Toss

    3. Bens Alligations

    2. Not Drafting Marino

    1. Super Bowl XXX – O’ Donnell Toilet Bowl

  45. ehatem says:
    Sadly for the rest of the teams mentioned here I’m going to go with “Fans not smart enough to realize this article wasn’t about them”.

    That was worth repeating. 😉

    @coachstram …

    Didn’t know you cared so much 😆

    @DiscountMescan …

    I loved that muddy mess of a game … 🙂

    @goonbar …

    Wow. That was a pleasant surprise. Just … wow.

  46. The lowest for the Steelers is that fact they have gone 2-3 at home in AFC championship games under Bill Cowher, mostly during a time when home field in the championship games was an automatic.

  47. Here is a few other low points.

    1991 drafted Huey Richardson in the 1st round with Brett Favre still on the board. Richardson lasted one season with the Steelers and traded to the Redskins the next season for a 7th round.

    Keeping Bruce Arians as our OC. One of the most uncreative and predicable OC’s in the NFL. Quoted after Big Ben’s return “We are not going to change anything”. (Why wouldn’t want to open up the offense now that you have your franchise QB back?). During this last off-season he was quoted saying “We do not have a fullback” as he refuses to go to a 2 back system and let our RB’s pound their heads straight into the line without a lead blocker.

  48. Among the others already mentioned, the organization not giving those who truly deserved the recognition for the SB XL win, rings…Bill Leavy and his crew.

  49. 1. BRISTER
    3. MADDOX

    Without a solid QB you lose. Plain and simple.
    Kordell is top 5 just because of disappointment. Loads of people say that Pittsburgh didn’t give him a chance… so he went elsewhere… how did he fare? He should have stayed “slash.”

  50. Franco Harris repeatedly running out of bounds near the end of his career, shamelessly trying to set “records”.


  51. > ubummer says: May 23, 2011 9:29 AM
    > Dr. Richard Rydze.
    > For 22 years the Steelers team doctor.
    > In 2007 caught with $150,000 of HGH, and
    > “resigned” after claiming he never gave any to the
    > Steelers players.

    He was FIRED as soon as a link was discovered. The link was so weak that the NFL let the Steelers punish him instead of letting the league handle it.

    > Roethlisberger. Need I say more about that?

    Never charged, never convicted of anything.

    >The Steelers condoning domestic abuse when
    > they keep wife beater James Harrison.

    (I know it is semantics, but it was his GF not his wife, but if you are going to throw dirt, at least get it right) Ultimately the charges were dropped at a preliminary hearing and the NFL never did punish him. BUT I will give it to you that hitting a woman is pretty low.

    > The blatantly racist Rooney Rule.

    Really? That is why US Corporations and other professional sports are wanting to adopt the same rule, and ask Mr. Rooney if he would lend his name and insight to the policy?

    > I don’t care what they’ve accomplished on the field,
    > the behavior of not just the players, but the front office
    > and the owners of the Steelers is a disgrace and a blight
    > on the National Football League.

    Maybe you should check out: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/police-blotter/
    Awful lot of dirt on every team. You have to go back to February 14, 2009 before you find a Steeler that was arrested. That was Jeff Reed showing his a$$ after the SB win at a local bar. There has been 126 incidents in the NFL since then.

  52. Not drafting Marino.

    Drafting Huey Richardson…..who knows how Favre would have done for the Steelers.

    The Malone years.

    The Brister years.

    Super Bowl XXX……way to go, Neil.

    Kordell not wanting to be “Slash” anymore, and want to be a QB and QB alone.

    AFC Championship loses to San Diego, and New England.

    Thanksgiving Day Game coin toss.

    Super Bowl XLV……hurts, but not as much as SB XXX.

    And let’s not forget the passing of one of the greatest owners the NFL has ever had……
    Art Rooney sr. (I wonder how the “Chief” would feel about this current bunch of Steelers?)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!