The Top Pittsburgh Steelers Turnovers That Could Have Been
Let's say that Troy Polamalu didn't get that second foot down on Sunday versus the Atlanta Falcons. Do the Falcons march down the field and win the game? Does it even go to overtime?
What if Polamalu doesn't come through with that interception in the 2008 AFC Championship game? Steelers still win the 2008 AFC North if Dewayne Washington doesn't intercept Jeff Blake at the end of a divisional game against Baltimore?
These are just a few of the big-time turnovers the Steelers have provided us with over the last 10 years or so. With every turnover there are a few that weren't meant to be. Usually we do top-10 lists here. But finding 10 of these is kind of tough. So here's the five most memorable I could find.
5. Joe Burnett Drops Game Clincher Against Oakland, December 6, 2009
The Steeler defense allowed the Oakland Raiders to walk down the field the last two times they had the ball. They had one last chance after Ben Roethlisberger gave them their second four-point lead to play with in five minutes.
In the middle of another Bruce Gradkowski march, rookie cornerback Joe Burnett had a Gradkowski pass hit him in the stomach. Unfortunately it didn't stay there. The ball hit the ground and gave the Raiders another chance to win the game.
They took advantage of the opportunity that the Steelers couldn't. A Louis Murphy touchdown catch with nine seconds remaining gave the Steelers their fourth-straight loss. Their second in three games to a team with a losing record. If Burnett catches that pass maybe the Steelers make the playoffs. Could it have had something to do with him not being on the current roster?
4. David Garrard Scrambles on 4th and 2 January 5, 2008
Here's the situation. It's fourth and two. The Steelers defense have been carved up all night. In this Wildcard playoff game they only need one more stop to secure a 29-28 win. Garrard calls his own number on the play. He slices the defense up the middle past the sure tackling skills of Tyrone Carter to the Steeler 11 yard line.
It was almost a turnover on downs, but the blunder cost the Steelers a chance at the Divisional round. Some say there was holding on the play. I say regardless if they stop them or not they still had to go to Foxborough and face the undefeated New England Patriots.
3. Bobby Shaw's Onside Recovery Gets Overruled December 30, 2001
The Steelers came into this one having won seven-straight, the AFC Central Crown and a first-round bye. All they needed to do was clinch home field. They had the league's top running attack and the best defense. The only thing that was in their way was the lowly Cincinatti Bengals.
Known Steeler killer John Kitna ended up throwing for 411 yards on the day. He set the blueprints on how to beat the Steelers for the next year and a half. The Steelers had a lead late in the fourth quarter. The Bengals were set for an onside kick.
Receiver Bobby Shaw clearly came up with the recovery and replay showed it. It didn't matter anyway. The Bengals came out of the pile with the ball which was more than enough evidence for the officials. Bill Cowher challenged but to no avail. The Steelers should have received possession. Instead, the Bengals tied it up and won it with a Neil Rackers kick in overtime.
If the Steelers get possession they win the game, clinch home field earlier, and teams don't look at this game as a blueprint to throw on their secondary.
2. Troy Polamalu's Phantom Fumble In Indy January 15, 2006
The game was all but over. The Seelers were making plans for the AFC Championship in Denver. Polamalu made a diving interception. It was infamously overturned by official Pete Morelli. This was a call that would force the NFL to apologize to the Steelers later in the week.
The Colts got the ball back and eventually came to within three points of the Steelers. Rookie Bryant McFadden dived at another possible interception on the Colts' last drive but couldn't come up with it.
If Polamalu's interception isn't overruled, Roethlisberger doesn't get the chance to make his "Immaculate Redemption" on a Nate Harper fumble return. An interception in either situation would have saved the career of Mike Vanderjagt.
1. Joey Porter Drops Six Points in AFC Championship January 27, 2002
With the 10-1/2 point favorite Steelers down by seven to the Patriots, Joey Porter lets a Drew Bledsoe pass bounce off of his hands on the Pats 20-yard line. There was nothing between him and the endzone if he intercepted.
If he scores, there was no guarantee of the game being tied. We all remember Kris Brown's kicking blunders throughout the season. We musn't forget about Kordell Stewart. He would have had another chance to break our hearts if the Steelers had been able to stop the next drive.
Although this ranks at the top of the list, Porter doesn't get the blame for the loss. I'd put more of it on their dreadful special teams play.
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