If You Could Change One Play In Steelers History, What Would It Be?

On their Twitter account Monday morning, ESPN asked fans of the Baltimore Ravens to name one play in the history of the franchise that if given the chance, they would change and why. I’m guessing that they will be doing this for all 32 teams, but in the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to see which play Steelers fans would choose.

I’m sure several different answers will be given, but the first play that popped into my head was the late fourth quarter 2nd and 10 pass attempt from quarterback Neil O’Donnell to wide receiver Corey Holliday that was intercepted by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown in Super Bowl XXX.

At the time of that interception, the Steelers trailed 20-17 and the hope was that O’Donnell could at least lead the offense on a game-tying drive. That wouldn’t come to fruition thanks to the interception and the Cowboys scored just two plays later to put the game away for good.

The next play that pops into my mind also featured O’Donnell and it was his incomplete pass to running back Barry Foster on 4th and 3 with 1:08 left in the AFC Championship game against the San Diego Chargers.

Did I nail both of these? If not, let me know what your choice would be.

  • John Coto

    Rashard Mendenhalls fumble in the super bowl, it was a huge momentum swing and ruined our comeback

  • Big White

    Tim Mckyer getting beat deep by Tony Martin & Stan Humphries in the AFC title game. Still hurts.

  • Big White

    95′ I think. cry cry…….

  • I was gonna go with the first play you listed Alex, but the way he was playing would have thrown a pic on 3rd and ten. I’ll keep history the same and go with Bettis punching it in vs. Colts as opposed to fumbling and watching Ben run down the field, if only to add a few years back on my life.

  • steelster

    Antonio brown scoring a td on the kickoff return against the dolphins on the last play of the game. All those laterals. It was fun to watch. It’s a shame he stepped out of bounds.

  • Big White

    Troy Brown returning a blocked FG for a score in another AFC title game wasn’t exactly easy to watch either. puke.

  • William Weaver

    Big Ben getting early on in the packer super bowl as he was throwing deep to mike Wallace but it fluttered and died to be pick and returned for a TD. I still believe the Steelers were the better team but had a disastrous start. The fumble late killed our momentum but that pick six dug us too deep a hole.

  • dano

    this. I was too young for super bowl 30 so this one is my pain, and it set the stage for a 21-3 hole. A fumble while driving to tie it was just insult to injury, but that interception buried us

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    1. Mendenhall Fumble in Superbowl.
    2. Bell injury in 2014 season finale. I feel we go to the Superbowl if he’s there!

  • kev4heels

    kemoateu’s horrific block in the last SB against the Pack that caused Ben to throw the wounded duck that resulted in a pick-6;.

  • 804Stiller

    I agree. We were about to take full control of that game and it would have been nice to see the Packers to be down and have some pressure on them. Even after the fumble, we had a drive to win that game. I just would have like to see how that game played out as we where running it down their throat……….3 Superbowls in a 7 years stretch would have been sweet.

  • JohnB

    The first play you picked is the exact one I’d pick..SO MANY PEOPLE ON THAT TEAM DESERVED A RING.

  • Alberto

    1997 AFC Championship against the Broncos…Bettis averaging 8 yds/carry on drive to score to take a big lead before halftime, instead on 2nd and 1 Kordell throws deep, interception, 7 points the other way…WHY?

  • cencalsteeler

    The O’Donnell one hurt bad, but the most embarrassing one has to be Tebow.


    Whatever play that caused the injury to Franco that kept him out of the playoffs when we should have won our third consecutive Super Bowl.

  • Matt Manzo

    Those were perfect choices! Some listed below are just as good, too!!!
    I was gonna add the coin toss in Detroit! I think that killed some momentum we had going during that season!

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    If we score to take the lead I don’t think our defense would have let any qb score Aaron Rodgers or anyone!

  • treeher

    I can go with the interception against Dallas, but I don’t see it as much different from Mendenhall’s fumble against Green Bay. Both plays kept us from potential SB victories.

  • ciscoNoDrink

    1996 NFL Draft. Jemain Stephens. We should have got Mike Alstott.

  • ciscoNoDrink

    One of the saddest days of my life.

  • Zarbor

    I think the interception by Neil will always be the biggest one. That’s because we were running on them and they couldn’t stop it. the momentum has completely swung our way and the Cowboys were on their heels. That INT sealed the game. There was no coming back from that.

    Mendy’s fumble will be a 1A since it was huge momentum swing but it did not seal the game. I never, never like him as a RB and have no time for RBs that fumble all the time. I think guys that fumble a lot don’t like the contact and in Mendy’s case, he was scared. Fitting he would fumble on the biggest stage and completely changed the game.

    Let’s not forget Ben’s INTs were horrible as well, especially the floater. He kinda gets a pass because he was a walking triage by time he got to that game. I think he had gotten everything broken in his body that year. Shame really.

  • Big White

    Yeah a #1 overall pick from North Carolina A&T??? Was it that brutally tough MEAC conference that impressed them? Nothing spells greatness like mauling the likes of Winston Salem St and Howard U.

  • Zarbor

    Yes. The Kordell disaster. There are several. Patsies come to mind as well after we defeated the Ravens.

  • Zarbor

    Ben has not played well in two of the 3 SB he has been in. Its time for him to rectify that. He’s getting the much deserved credit now but he has got to play consistently high level QB every game. Not just most, but all…..especially if we make it to the SB.

  • William Weaver

    If Pouncey is in the game (out injured) he might not get hit and might just connect with Wallace for an entirely different outcome. He played well after that just didn’t have playmakers on outside late. Wallace couldn’t handle anything but WR screens and 9 routes.

  • William Weaver

    I don’t know if it was his fault or the back up center filling in for the injured Pouncey. Can’t remember who it was.

  • GoSteelerz

    I hate Dallas, and we were dominating the game physically (held Emmit to just 49 yards on 21 carries), and we had momentum. They weren’t going to stop us… That Steeler team deserved a ring…

  • Mike Galloway

    The play in the 1976 playoff game vs. the Baltimore Colts that resulted in the injury to Franco Harris. Having Franco in the AFC title game would have led to a win against the Raiders, three Super Bowls in a row, five Super Bowls in 6 years, and the greatest dynasty ever!

  • You’re probably right about the O’Donnell interception. It was just terrible on so many levels.

    For me personally, though, it would have to be the Mendenhall fumble against the Packers. The Steelers may not have been the better team in that game, but it looked like a win was possible, and that would have given them three in six years, certainly comparable to the Pats’ dynasty. Of course a Super Bowl win over the detestable ’90s Cowboys would have been great, too, but I was less invested in the Steelers at that time, and the disappointment just didn’t hit as hard as the loss to the Packers. I felt so flat after that play, so bummed, so miserable.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Those are both excellent choices.

    I would add for consideration – The 4th down incompletion to end the last drive against the Packers – I was convinced that Ben and the Steelers had the time to drive down the field and score to defeat Green Bay to win that Super Bowl.

  • Mechanix

    I remember both of those Neil O’Donnell plays and was in misery after both. I would have to go for the interception to Larry Brown. At the time, the Cowboys and Steelers were going for their fifth Super Bowl win. The Steelers looked pretty good in that game. Plus, like someone else said, so many good players missed out on a Super Bowl ring after that. And how does Larry Brown get three interceptions in that game? I remember back then my sister, who doesn’t pay attention to sports, saw Neil O’Donnell and said he was ugly. I was like, who cares, as long as he plays well.

  • Heather Danis

    Either one would do as they were the 2 that came to the forefront of my mind immediately. The first, had the drive continued moving along as well as it started to, could have changed the outcome of that SB. If the catch had actually been made in the 2nd option, it could have propelled us on our way to another SB appearance. However, a 3rd option was Mendenhall’s fumble in the SB against Green Bay during which the offense had the GB defense on its heels and was driving. That fumble nearly completely took the wind out of our sails and changed the complexion of the remainder of the game.

  • Heather Danis

    Agreed. I also think it is a good 3rd option outside of the 2 already presented. It changed the game in many ways and demolished the momentum that the offense had gained while driving down the field. Difficult to say whether we would or would not have scored, but the GB defense was reeling and couldn’t seem to stop our offense.

  • Heather Danis

    Let’s not forget that Sanders was also limited with a foot injury which didn’t help the situation once the other 2 WRs were locked down. All in all, lots of factors went into our defeat in that SB.

  • Alberto

    I am waiting for the Steelers organization to announce a date when they will reveal what the play call was, and what the QB and WR each read. If not on both of Larry Brown´s interceptions at least on the last one. Steeler Nation deserves closure.

  • VaDave

    McKyer gift was tough, but he was outmanned and beat by a better player. The play where Lake let Papuno ( SD TE) get behind him, however, was inexcusable. That’s the one I want back. Lake does his job, McKyer inability to defend, and the pass to Foster at the end of the game are moot.

  • VaDave

    No doubt, the best team we fielded in that decade.

  • Tommy McFart

    Great question. Troy Brown punt return for TD in AFC championship game. Maybe because I now live in New England.

  • Zarbor

    Agreed. One trick pony Wallace. Amazing how a player here, play there can make all the difference between winning and losing.

  • Nolrog

    Mendenhall’s fumble. Ben’s Pick 6 in that same game. One of O’Donnell’s SB INTs. That stupid 4th and 1 in the AFC championship game that we wound up losing.

  • Steel Your Face

    I’m still convinced O’Donnell was paid off by the mob. *sigh* 2 passes to nobody in particular. Heartbreaking.

  • Richard Cetrone

    It wouldn’t be a play. I would have the Steelers draft Dan Marino. With the defenses we had two more Super Bowls guaranteed.

  • William Weaver

    Agree but I still say the steelers had the better over all team. Wouldn’t say that about the ’95 loss to the Cowboys. Get us back now and I know we have the right playmakers to play big!

  • pittfan

    Tebow to Thomas.

    It still hurts.

  • DoctorNoah


  • DoctorNoah

    Neil O’Crapmonger didn’t deserve a ring. Everyone else on that team did.

  • pittfan

    yeah, they scored like 1 or 2 plays later. aaarrgghh

  • cp72

    Stallworth, Swann, Ward, AB, Holmes make that catch. That’s why Mike Wallace won’t be remembered. Be big in big moments.

  • cp72

    Doug Lesursky

  • William Weaver

    Yes.. Thanks. Couldn’t remember.

  • Ryan

    Thinkin the same thing

  • Ryan

    Rashard fumble, O’Donnell picks and even though it was only a regular season game Antonio Brown stepping outta bounds on the hook and ladder at the end of the game against the Dolphins

  • Karma Sherrell Engel


  • Phawks89

    2003 divisional playoff game against Tennessee I wonder if Nedney ever went after that acting career.

  • Vic

    Yes sanders getting hurt was a huge loss. Have you wondered if the outcome would have been different if Santonio Holmes was on that team?

  • C. Dias

    Whatever play Franco got hurt in the win against Baltimore in the 76/77 playoffs. Had to play AFC Championship w/ no Franco or Blier; best Defense we ever had.

  • Big White

    Yep. Foster and Morris was a nasty one-two bunch at RB and Woodson missed almost all of the 96′ season with the knee even though he played sparingly in the super bowl. I think our OL was Searcy, Love, Dawson, Strelczyk and Wolfford which was as good as there ever was in Pittsburgh. I was really looking forward to seeing the Defense of that Steeler team vs the Offense of the 49ers. Not to mention Capers was much more of a blitzing style vs a read and react of the later Lebeau regime.

  • Alex

    Without question, especially having been there, the pass to Foster that cost superbowl appearance. Two major issues that aided that incompletion if you watch the film. 1). Foster went too far into end zone. Go to the line, and save time for defensive player coming in; 2) Foster had an open field to left side. Go a bit that way, and then post your body position to block the defender from being able to knock it down. The sound of the stadium was deafening afterward.