Six Decades Later Pittsburgh Steelers' First Playoff Game All But Forgotten

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Six Decades Later Pittsburgh Steelers' First Playoff Game All But Forgotten
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Contrary to popular belief, the Steelers' first playoff game was not the "Immaculate Reception" game against the Raiders in 1972.

It actually took place 25 years earlier in 1947. 

Since their first season in 1933, the Steelers hadn't experienced much success.  Following a disappointing season in 1946, the Steelers star player Bill Dudley abruptly quit the team because of his disdain for the coach Jock Sutherland.

After Dudley made it clear he was not returning, owner Art Rooney reluctantly traded him to the Lions.  It was now up to Sutherland to get the most out of the remaining talent on the team.

Sutherland did just that.  He managed to coax a good year out of a team lacking superstars.  The Steelers were led by little known Johnny Clement, who led the team with 670 yards rushing for a 5.2 average, and 1004 yards passing with seven touchdowns.

The Steelers managed to forge a first-place tie with the Eagles.  They had split their two regular season games with Philadelphia.  The Steelers' chances for victory took a hit when Clement was injured and missed the game.

With very little offense to speak of, the Steelers were beaten 21-0.  The Eagles would go on to play in the first of three straight NFL Championship games.  Pittsburgh dropped back down to the bottom of the league.

That's where they stayed for the most part until their next opportunity to make it to a playoff game in 1963.

The Steelers overcame the tragic death of star defensive lineman Big Daddy Lipscomb before the season began to field a tough defensive unit.  On offense they were led by quarterback Ed Brown, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.  The Steelers also relied on the power running of John Henry Johnson and Dick Hoak.

During the season, Pittsburgh played three ties and mathematically could win the division and a spot in the championship game with a win over the rival New York Giants in the final game.  The Steelers had dominated the Giants 31-0 earlier in the season and quarterback Ed Brown had played well.

In the rematch, Brown had a miserable afternoon.  He missed open receivers all game long and seemed to struggle under the pressure of a big game.  The Giants crushed the Steelers 33-17 and Pittsburgh would not come close to another playoff game until 1972.

We all remember what happened in that game.

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