Despite the disappointing end to the decade, the Steelers won two Super Bowls, went to three AFC Championship games, and won five division titles, putting them up there amongst the most dominant teams of the decade. Only New England won more division titles (7 if they hang on this year), and Super Bowls (3). But Pittsburgh was never accused of cheating.
We'll have a whole series of these, and while we could make quite extensive lists, people love top 10 lists. 10 is a great round number, and it leaves plenty of room for people to debate. Of course, these are just our opinions, so feel free to give us your own in the comments!
Given that the 2009 season isn't over yet, if events occur that necessitate us revising our lists (such as Ben's 503-yard game against Green Bay) we will re-release revised lists after the season is over. Why after the season is over you ask? Well, just to be sure that there is nothing more that can be added.
Today we look back at the Top Ten moments of the past decade. Obviously, there have been a lot of big "moments" this decade and it was hard to distinguish just ten. Due to this, we tried to pick moments that were meaningful on-field and off-field. We could make a Top 100 Moments list and still not scratch the surface of all the awesome things that have happened this decade.
Top Ten Moments
10) Bill Cowher Retires
The man who had taken the helm from Chuck Noll and led the Steelers to division titles and conference championship games finally got his ring in February 2006 when the Steelers defeated the Seahawks. Cowher proclaimed the 2006 season would be his last with the team. Despite a slow start, the Steelers rallied to finish the season 6-2, including an overtime defeat of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 that kept Cincy out of the playoffs. Cowher was a good coach whose ability to build strong, physical teams can't be questioned.
9) Styx plays the National Anthem and Renegade
2008 Divisional Game
The Steelers defense had been keyed by Renegade all season. They had 4 defensive touchdowns on Renegade drives coming into the playoffs. The Steelers staff decided it would be a good idea to bring in Styx to sing the national anthem for the divisional playoff game against San Diego. After a blistering national anthem, Styx stayed on the field, and we all knew what was coming next. Before the Steelers ran out of the tunnel, Styx broke into the beginning bars of Renegade. The crowd went absolutely berserk and set the tone for the entire game.
8) Rod Woodson Hall of Fame Induction
For those of us that were children of the mid-1980s, we grew up watching Rod Woodson. To see him inducted into the Hall of Fame was a big moment for our generation of fans because he was the first Steelers that we remembered watching enter the hallowed halls of Canton. What made it even better was the shout-out that he gave to Steelers fans, saying that he was glad that he was glad he was booed when he played for the Raiders and the Ravens because he would have lost respect for us otherwise.
7) Lynn Swann Hall of Fame Induction
In something that had taken far too long to come to pass, Lynn Swann was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001. What made his speech even better was that he selflessly petitioned for the induction of his fellow wide receiver John Stallworth into the Hall of Fame.
6) John Stallworth Hall of Fame Induction
Lynn Swann had to wait a long time for the call from Canton, and John Stallworth, who at the time held all of the Steelers receiving records, had to wait a year longer. Stallworth was the last of the 70s Steelers to make the Hall of Fame, and his induction signaled the changing of the guard from the Steelers of the 70s, as it highly unlikely that any more members of that team will find their way to Canton.
5) James Harrison wins Defensive Player of the Year
How is this a better moment than Steelers entering the Hall of Fame? Let's look at the scenario. James Harrison, a player that had been cut four times and constantly been told he couldn't make it, won Defensive Player of the Year. Harrison didn't lead the league in sacks or interceptions, but he set a team record for sacks in a season and caused the NFL to re-define how holding penalties were called.
4) Hines Ward becomes the leading receiver in Steelers history
The preeminent Steeler of the decade surpassed Hall of Famer John Stallworth's records for receptions and receiving yards. For playing on teams that ran the ball most of the time, Hines' ability to be consistent and a solid receiver, as well as a great human being who gives back to the community, is something the Steelers organization is built upon. Securing his place in Steelers history was a great moment. In 2009, Hines became the 33rd receiver in NFL history to surpass 10,000 receiving yards.
3) Terrible Towel Ceremonies
After legendary broadcaster Myron Cope retired, the Steelers held a halftime ceremony for him, presenting him with a plaque and honors. It was quite a moment. Unfortunately, this decade also saw Myron passed away, and the Steelers honored him in due fashion. They brought back legends from the entire Cope Era and had a moment of silence at the game with everyone holding up their Terrible Towels. In honor and tragedy, the Steelers get it done in the right fashion.
2) Super Bowl XLIII
There were two moments this decade that simply surpassed everything else. As always with these lists, it's incredibly difficult to differentiate between the top two and determine which should be #1. Super Bowl XLIII was a great game, featuring the longest play in Super Bowl history and one of the most electrifying finishes ever. The Steelers clinched their sixth Super Bowl victory on LaMarr Woodley's sack of Kurt Warner, giving us more Lombardi Trophies than any other team.
1) Super Bowl XL
After waiting 26 years since Super Bowl XIV, the Steelers finally returned to the top of the league. The best part of this was the improbability of it all. A #6 seed had never made a conference championship game, let alone a Super Bowl. The Steelers accomplished the feat, beating Cincinnati, top-seeded Indianapolis and Denver on the road. The Steelers returned to Detroit, the hometown of Jerome Bettis, defeated the Seahawks in a 21-10 slug-fest and hoisted Lombardi's Trophy.