It began on opening day 1992 with an upset win in Houston over Warren Moon and the Oilers, and ended December 31st with an overtime victory over the Bengals. The Bill Cowher Era is over in Pittsburgh as of 1pm today, and with it goes 149 wins, 90 losses and 1 tie. Cowher has been the face of Pittsburgh football for the last 15 seasons, and for nothing else it will be sad to see him and his stuck out jaw not there next season, yelling at refs, scowling at a player who just screwed up, or running down the sidelines when theres a big play for his team.
At 49 years old there is no doubt that Cowher will return to an NFL sideline near you someday, possibly as early as 2008. Even with that, there will be something lost without seeing him wearing the colors of the Steel City. As a final good-bye (for now) to Cowher, below are 8 games that Steelers fans will never forget and games that made Cowher the legend he is today in the Steel City.
1. Pittsburgh 21 Seattle 10 (Super Bowl XL) February 2006 – The Super Bowl win was oh-so-sweet for Cowher and his Steelers, as all the years of hard work along with the dissapointment of past losses were swept away in one evening in Detroit. Cowher’s post game gatorade shower and embrace with his family is still something that chokes up most Steelers fans. It didn’t hurt having a big run from Willie Parker or a trick play TD to Hines Ward go for scores either.
2. Pittsburgh 20 Indianapolis 16 (AFC Championship Game) January 1996 – Sure the team went on to lose the Super Bowl two weeks later in Arizona, but this game exercised some of Cowher’s deamons of failure that he couldn’t win the big game. A huge favorite going in, the Steelers had to survive a gutsy Colts team and score a late Bam Morris TD and have a hail mary barley fall incomplete to complete the win and trip to Super Bowl XXX.
3. Pittsburgh 21 Indianapolis 18 (AFC Divisional Playoff Game) January 2006 – A big underdog coming in as the 6th seed, the Steelers game plan early was to throw, build a lead, stop Peyton Manning, then get lucky in the end to pull off the upset. It all happened like clockwork. Ben Roethlisberger threw two first quarter TD’s, the defense was great, and a late last second field goal was wide to give the Steelers the upset win. That game truly set them on their trek to win the Super Bowl.
4. Pittsburgh 29 Cleveland 9 (AFC Divisional Playoff Game) January 1995 – The Browns drooled about a third meeting with the Steelers after losing twice to them in the 1994 season, and came into Pittsburgh with a chip on their shoulder. That chip was quickly knocked off by the running attack of Barry Foster and Bam Morris, as the Steelers dominated from start to finish to advance to the AFC Championship game. It was also Cowher’s first ever playoff win as coach of the Steelers.
5. Pittsburgh 29 Houston 24 (Cowher’s First Regular Season Game) September 1992 – This game set the tone for how the Steelers were going to be under Cowher – aggressive, never intimated, and not afraid to take a chance. The Steelers picked off Warren Moon five times, pressured him all day, and down 14-0 Cowher called for a fake punt in which Mark Royals hit RB Warren Williams to the one-yard line to get the Steelers back into the game. Double digit underdogs going in, the win set up Pittsburgh to be back to being a force in the AFC Central.
6. Pittsburgh 34 Denver 17 (AFC Championship Game) January 2006 – While the Colts win the week before was the springboard to the Super Bowl, this game showed why the Steelers were the favorites to win in Detroit. Big Ben was unstoppable, and by the time Denver knew what hit them, they trailed 24-3 at halftime. The defense pressured Jake Plummer from the start, and Pittsburgh never allowed the Broncos closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter. The win was the only home loss Denver suffered in the 2005-06 season.
7. Pittsburgh 34 New England 20 (Steelers stop the Pats win streak) October 2004 – With a rookie QB and a Pats team coming in with a long win streak, many thought the 5-1 Steelers were due to lose. Instead, a great game plan, solid running game, and stellar defense led the way as the Steelers beat Tom Brady and the Pats on Halloween eve. The win showed that even with a young Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers were going to contend for the AFC crown.
8. Pittsburgh 21 Houston 20 (AFC Central 1st Place Showdown) October 1992 – Houston wanted revenge for an opening day loss to Cowher and the Steelers, while the Steelers wanted to prove they could go toe-to-toe again with the mighty Oilers. Warren Moon staked Houston to a 20-7 lead in the second half, but two TD passes from Neil O’Donnell to Eric Green gave the Steelers a 21-20 lead late. Al Del Greco missed a last second field goal to preserve the Steelers win.