Pittsburgh Steelers: 6 Worst All-Time Thursday Steeler Moments

Mike Batista@Steel_TweetsContributor IDecember 7, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers: 6 Worst All-Time Thursday Steeler Moments

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    Pittsburgh Steelers fans will be treated to Thursday Night Football this week when the Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

    Is it really a treat, though?

    The Steelers are 8-9 all-time on Thursdays, despite winning six of their last seven in these mid-week matchups.

    Even when the Steelers win on Thursdays, the victory can be costly. Some of their Thursday wins actually make this list.

    This is the sixth straight season the Steelers have a Thursday game on their schedule. Despite their recent success, Thursday generally is just not the Steelers' day.

No. 6: Steelers Win, but Lose Troy Polamalu

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    The Steelers opened their Super Bowl title defense in 2009 with a 13-10 overtime win over the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.

    But they lost Troy Polamalu in the process.

    Polamalu injured his left knee when the Titans' Alge Crumpler fell on it after the Steelers blocked a field-goal attempt.

    Polamalu came back five weeks later, but hurt the knee again in Week 10 against the Bengals and didn't play again in 2009.

    What made Polamalu's injury especially unfortunate was that we saw a quarter and a half of vintage Polamalu on this Thursday night. He had six tackles and an interception, but this night would be a harbinger of an injury-riddled season for Polamalu and a woeful title defense by the Steelers.

    Polamalu played in just five games in 2009. His absence was one of the key factors in the Steelers' infamous five-game losing streak that caused them to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the last time they tried to repeat as Super Bowl champs.

No. 5: Houston Oilers Blank Steelers

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    Missing the playoffs a year after winning the Super Bowl is nothing new for the Steelers.

    They've followed their last three championships with non-playoff seasons. The first of those flops came in 1980.

    After winning four Super Bowls in the 1970s, the Steelers were showing their age in 1980. They were still fighting for a playoff berth, however, when they visited the Houston Oilers on a Thursday night in December.

    If there was any doubt that the glory days of the 1970s were a thing of the past, the Luv Ya Blue Oilers made it clear with a 6-0 win in the Astrodome. Terry Bradshaw threw three interceptions, and it was the first time the Steelers had been shut out since 1974, the year they won their first Super Bowl.

    The Steelers finished 9-7 that year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1971.

No. 4: Steelers Win, but Lose Willie Parker

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    In 2007, during his first season as Steelers coach, Mike Tomlin vowed to run Willie Parker "until the wheels come off."

    That's just what happened in Week 16 that year on a Thursday night in St. Louis.

    Parker broke his leg on his first carry of the game and was done for the year.

    In 2006, Parker starred in perhaps the Steelers' biggest moment of Thursday glory, rushing for 223 yards for a single-game team record in a win over the Browns.

    Parker picked up where he left off in 2007. He was leading the NFL with 1,316 rushing yards before getting hurt. The Steelers beat the lowly Rams 41-24 without Parker, but that was their last win of the season.

    With Najeh Davenport as their featured back, the Steelers' running game was about as dangerous as a gun shooting a flag that says, "Bang!"

    They were one-and-done in the playoffs, losing to the Jaguars at home in a wild-card game.

No. 3: Lions Carve Up Steelers on Thanksgiving

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    It's a good thing the Super Bowl isn't played on a Thursday.

    The Steelers won Super Bowl XL in Detroit, but they haven't fared nearly as well in Detroit on Thursdays.

    The Steelers have lost by more than 40 points only twice since 1947. It figures one of those beatdowns would come on a Thursday.

    Cliff Stoudt threw four interceptions in a 45-3 loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving in 1983. It was the second of three straight losses after the Steelers started the season 9-2.

    Stoudt was starting because Terry Bradshaw missed the first 14 games of the season after having offseason elbow surgery. Bradshaw played in only one more game for the Steelers.

    The Steelers never recovered from their Thanksgiving stuffing at the Silverdome. They finished 10-6 and were cooked by the Los Angeles Raiders 38-10 in the AFC divisional playoffs.

    It wouldn't be the last time the Steelers would suffer an indignity on Thanksgiving in Detroit.

No. 2: Steelers Collapse in Cleveland

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    It was a cold night in Cleveland, but the Steelers provided plenty of heat as their playoff hopes pretty much went down in flames.

    The Steelers already were falling apart entering this game, having lost four straight after a 6-2 start. On this December night, their 2009 collapse took on the spectacle of a Christmas tree lighting with their 13-6 loss to the 1-11 Browns in prime time on a Thursday night.

    The Steelers came off a 27-24 loss to the Raiders, who were 3-8, in the final seconds at Heinz Field. With only four days to recover from that stunning defeat, the Steelers appeared as catatonic as Cameron Frye in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" during their game in Cleveland.

    At least the Steelers built up leads that they blew in the fourth quarter in three of their previous four losses. In this game, they never had the lead, falling behind 13-0 in the first half. This embarrassing loss snapped the Steelers' 12-game winning streak against the Browns.

    The Steelers got their act together and finished the season with three straight wins, but they needed all kinds of help to make the playoffs and didn't get it.

No. 1: Phil Luckett's Coin Toss Dooms Steelers

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    Mention Phil Luckett's name to any Steelers fan, and you're likely to hear words that aren't appropriate for small children.

    There are two sides to every coin, however, and there are two sides to this story.

    The Steelers and Lions went to overtime on Thanksgiving in 1998. Referee Phil Luckett flipped the coin and it sounded on television like the Steelers' Jerome Bettis called "tails."

    When the coin was in the air, Luckett announced that Bettis called "heads." The coin came up tails, and Luckett said the Lions won the toss.

    Bettis pleaded with Luckett, saying he called "tails." According to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Luckett said afterward that Bettis first called "heads," so he went with that call.

    Here's what we do know. The Steelers didn't get the ball in overtime, and Lions' kicker Jason Hanson kicked a 42-yard field goal to give the Lions a 19-16 win.

    This Thursday loss was the first of five straight that sank the Steelers' season after a 7-4 start.

    So just like 15 years earlier, the Steelers had a decent season going, ran into trouble in Detroit and never got past their Thanksgiving hangover.