The 10 Best Highlights of Pittsburgh Steelers' 2012 Season so Far
It's hard to believe the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers season includes highlights, considering the Steelers have lost four of their last five and are a .500 football team right now.
Believe or not, the Steelers have produced some eye-popping and emotional plays through their first 14 games this season. They just need a few more to get into the playoffs.
The Steelers must beat the Bengals Sunday and probably need to beat the Browns on Dec. 30 to keep playing in January.
For now, soak in and enjoy this ranked list of top 10 Steelers highlights of 2012, because the season might almost be finished.
No. 10: Wallace Goes Deep
2011, now those were the days.
The Steelers beat bad teams, hid their weaknesses (until Denver, of course) and had a playoff spot wrapped up in the final shopping days before Christmas.
Mike Wallace was going deep and making a big play just about every week in 2011, at least he was early in the season.
Wallace and Ben Roethlisberger turned back the clock in Week 6 at Tennessee, connecting on an 82-yard touchdown.
It was Wallace's longest reception of the season so far and the most picturesque. He didn't have to break his stride when he caught the ball near the Titans' 35-yard line. He broke free from the grasp of Jason McCourty and out-raced Michael Griffin to get to the end zone.
That touchdown gave the Steelers a 10-3 lead, but they lost the game 26-23.
When a team loses as many games as it's won, some of its highlights for the season are going to come during losses.
No. 9: Wallace Goes to His Knees
Mike Wallace isn't just a deep-ball threat in 2012. He's caught passes running a variety of routes.
However, he's also dropped a few passes.
There was no way Wallace was going to let this ball hit the ground.
With the Steelers trailing 10-3 late in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 10, Ben Roethlisberger threw a fade route to Wallace in the end zone.
Wallace got his right hand on the ball, but that wouldn't be enough to make the catch since he was falling to the ground. So he used his hand to deposit the ball between his knees, as he hit the grass.
The touchdown tied the score, and the Steelers went on to win 16-13 in overtime to improve to 6-3. In terms of winning percentage, it was their high point of the season.
No. 8: Leftwich Takes It to the House
When Ben Roethlisberger went down with shoulder and rib injuries in Week 10 against Kansas City, the Steelers would have to sacrifice mobility at the quarterback position.
Byron Leftwich sure looked mobile in the opening minute of the Steelers' game against the Ravens in Pittsburgh. Terrell Suggs flushed Leftwich out of the pocket, and he kept running down the right sideline for a touchdown and a 7-0 Steelers lead 43 seconds into the game.
For a fleeting moment, it looked like the Steelers would get an important division win over the Ravens and weather Roethlisberger's absence, however long it would be.
However, Leftwich immediately threw a wet blanket on all that euphoria by rolling onto his throwing shoulder in the end zone. That shoulder affected him the rest of the game, as he missed some key throws.
The Steelers lost the game 13-10. Except for their oasis of a victory in Baltimore, the Steelers have been on a long dry spell since then.
No. 7: Timmons Works Overtime
The Kansas City Chiefs took the Steelers to overtime in Week 10 at Heinz Field.
After what happened the first time, they made progress just by not losing the game on the first play.
Not only that, but they essentially won the game on the second play.
Lawrence Timmons intercepted Matt Cassel at the Chiefs' 28-yard line and returned it to the 5-yard line, avoiding a couple of Chiefs along the way. The Steelers didn't fuss around, sending out Shaun Suisham right away for the game-winning field goal.
Timmons' pick helped spare the Steelers the humiliation of losing to the one-win Chiefs. The humiliation would come four weeks later, when the Chargers came to town.
No. 6: Rainey Takes a Detour
Trailing the Cleveland Browns 13-7 with seven seconds left in the first half, the Steelers needed points before halftime.
They had a 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard line after Plaxico Burress drew a pass-interference penalty in the end zone.
Before trying a field goal, the Steelers took a shot at six points. The Steelers didn't exactly draft Chris Rainey as a short-yardage specialist, but he was their only running back who hadn't fumbled to that point, so he got the ball.
Rainey ran the ball up the middle and looked like he was swallowed up by brown jerseys. He remained on his feet, however, and ran around the left side for the touchdown and 14-13 Steelers lead at halftime.
It was all downhill from there.
No. 5: Sanders Goes Almost All the Way
It might seem like this highlight-reel play was wasted, but it did give the Steelers a field-position advantage, as they tried to come from behind in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers narrowed a 20-10 deficit to 20-17 against the Giants in Week 9, and then they forced the Giants to punt.
Emmanuel Sanders returned Steve Weatherford's punt 63 yards to the Giants' 12-yard line. The Steelers advanced to the 3-yard line but squandered the scoring opportunity by botching a fake field-goal attempt.
Still, the Giants went three-and-out, and Sanders returned the next punt 11 yards to the Steelers' 49. The Steelers used that field position to score what turned out to be the winning touchdown in a 24-20 victory at MetLife Stadium.
No. 4: Dwyer, Batch Fix Broken Play
Jonathan Dwyer basically did the same thing Chris Rainey did a week earlier in Cleveland.
This time it helped lead to a win.
The bruising, 229-pound Dwyer found nothing up the middle, so he broke to the outside trying to use whatever speed he had to at least get the seven yards the Steelers needed for a first down.
Dwyer got more than that. Charlie Batch threw a block to help pave the way to the end zone. The 16-yard touchdown run tied the score 13-13 in the third quarter of a game the Steelers won 23-20.
No. 3: Wallace Scores Giant Touchdown
This might have been the most pivotal play so far in the Steelers' 2012 season.
The Steelers trailed the Giants 20-10 in Week 9 with just over 14 minutes left in the game.
On 3rd-and-5 from the Steelers' 49-yard line, Mike Wallace caught a short pass on the right side, cut across the field, ran around the Giants defense and raced to the end zone down the left sideline, cutting the Giants' lead to 20-17.
The Steelers defense allowed nothing but three-and-outs the rest of the way. The Steelers scored the go-ahead touchdown and won 24-20 to improve to 5-3.
Without the momentum Wallace's touchdown provided, the Steelers might have slipped back to .500. Instead, it was the third of four-straight victories.
No. 2: Roethlisberger Finds Miller
When NFL analysts say that Ben Roethlisberger can "extend plays," this is what they mean.
The Steelers trailed the Cowboys 10-3 Sunday in Dallas and were trying to get points before halftime.
With less than a minute left in the half, Roethlisberger dodged Dallas pass-rushers like a pinball for eight seconds before finally finding Heath Miller alone near the sideline. Miller caught the pass and ran it in for a 30-yard touchdown, tying the game at halftime.
The Steelers lost Sunday's game, but at least Roethlisberger showed he can keep plays alive just like he did before his injuries.
No. 1: Kick, Hug, Handshake
A lot of drama is packed into about 25 seconds.
In a way, it's fitting Shaun Suisham is the star of the No. 1 highlight of the Steelers' 2012 season through 14 games. He's made 26-of-27 field-goal attempts this year, including three game-winners as time ran out.
One of them came in Week 13 at Baltimore. Suisham kicked a 42-yarder as the clock hit zero to beat the Ravens 23-20.
Charlie Batch led the Steelers to this victory, their only one in Ben Roethlisberger's three-game absence. After Suisham's kick went through the uprights, Batch and Roethlisberger engaged in a long man hug. It had been a rough three weeks since Roethlisberger's injury, and there was probably a lot of relieved joy in that embrace.
Then the cameras turned from all that mushy stuff and caught perhaps the only thing that's been missing from this bitter Steelers-Ravens rivalry, a controversial coaches' handshake.
John Harbaugh looked like he wasn't satisfied with Mike Tomlin's handshake. He said something to Tomlin as Tomlin was trying to walk away. Tomlin turned around and acknowledged him before they went their separate ways. Harbaugh glared at Tomlin a couple of times as Tomlin was jogging away.
OK, so maybe this was much ado about nothing, according to Pro Football Talk. It was still entertaining TV.