The Top Five Steelers vs. Seahawks Games of All-Time

4 of 5

December 6, 1992

A.F.C. Central Champs Survive “Trap Game”

Steelers 20 – Seahawks 14

1992 was a special year in the Steel City.  The Steelers were celebrating their 60th season as an N.F.L. Franchise, and new Head Coach Bill Cowher became the first person to lead the Steelers as a Head Coach that was not named Chuck Noll since 1969.  The tail end of the Noll years were mediocre at best (aside from the wonderful 1989 season), so there was little in the way of expectations for the 1992 Steelers who had finished 7-9 the season before.  Yet what we fans got in terms of excitement and a new-found belief in the future of the franchise that season went beyond any of our wildest hopes and dreams.

Heading into their Week 14 game at Three Rivers Stadium against Seattle, the Steelers were sitting atop the A.F.C. Central with a 9-3 record.  The previous 12 games had featured two heart-stopping wins versus divisional rival Houston and a 2-1 record against division rivals Cleveland and Cincinnati.  All seemed to be falling into place for an A.F.C. Central Championship and #1 Seed in the A.F.C. Playoffs, but much like every team that is coasting through a season, the Steelers needed to be aware of the dreaded trap game against a feisty yet downtrodden foe that had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  And the 2-10 Seattle Seahawks were just that team as they strode into a cold December game at the crossings of the Monongahela, Ohio, and Allegheny Rivers.

The 1992 season was not one without controversy however, as longtime starter Bubby Brister was steaming over his starting job being handed over to future Finkle-esque Goat Neil O’Donnell.  Bubby had himself a star-crossed career in Pittsburgh to say the least, and in 1991 did in fact win 5 of his 8 starts for the Steelers that season.  Tensions finally boiled over when Noll asked Brister to come in for O’Donnell during their 1991 blowout loss to Houston.  Brister famously remarked, “I don’t mop up for anybody.”  However aft the 1992 preseason, Cowher went with Neil O’Donnell and that was that, although Brister did have some spot duty in 1992 when O’Donnell was hurt.

The Steelers appeared to be avoiding the trap game in the early stages of the game.  Relying on a steady diet of Barry Foster toting the rock, the Steelers were able to build themselves a quick 10-0 lead in the 2nd Quarter.  O’Donnell had a nice 19 yard TD pass to the always underrated Ernie Mills in the 1st, and Gary Anderson added a 38 yard Field Goal in the 2nd.  All seemed to be going well with the Defense holding tough to a 10 point lead despite O’Donnell turning the ball over (he threw three INT’s that day) and the Steelers looked like they could coast despite the self-inflicted wounds.  Unfortunately, the thing about trap games is that if the lowly team is given a shot to stay in the game, they will take it.  And that is exactly what Seattle did.

Seattle managed to eek out a TD before Halftime on a 28 yard pass from Stan Gelbaugh to Tommy Kane. And the score at the Half was an unsettling 10-7 for the Steelers and their fans.  Things went from bad to worse when in the 3rd Quarter future Steelers FB John L. Williams (who had 8 catches for 98 yards that day) caught a 3 yard TD pass from Stan Gelbaugh.  The cherry on top of the crap sundae was that in the 2nd Half Neil O’Donnell broke his right fibula and was lost for the game.  So in stepped Bubby Brister to try and salvage a victory.  Despite throwing two bone-headed INT’s while finishing the game, the Steelers still were within striking distance down 14-10 during the 4th Quarter and were only a big play away from winning the game.

Undaunted by the fact they may have been playing their worst game of the season against probably their weakest opponent, the Steelers went with their tried and true winning formula in 1992: Feeding the ball to Barry Foster.  In the 4th Quarter Foster led the way and pounded the rock like a true champion.  And on a day where he finished with 125 yards on 33 carries and had 5 catches for 29 yards, Foster ran in the go-ahead Touchdown from 4 yards out to make the game 17-14 in favor of the Steelers.  Seattle was never able to mount a drive after that and with a Gary Anderson 39 yard Field Goal, the Steelers finished the game with a 20-14 win.So why was this game important?  Well first, it illustrated that the Steelers were not immune to a trap game, and were lucky to escape with a win against such a weak opponent.  Second, this win kept the Steelers ahead of Houston who was nipping at their heels for the division lead.  Finally, despite Brister’s INT’s his comeback win was the harbinger for a sour end to the 1992 season where after he played brilliantly in their Week 17 win against Cleveland, Cowher went with Neil O’Donnell in the Steelers Divisional Playoff Game against Buffalo where they were trounced at home.  O’Donnell played like crap and longtime Guard Tunch Ilkin stated that Brister would probably have led the team to victory.  Regardless, Brister was gone by 1993, and Steeler Nation knows exactly what happened to Neil O’Donnell.