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1997 Pittsburgh Steelers season: Map

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The 1997 Pittsburgh Steelers was considered a transitional year heading into the season due to many key free agent losses in the offseason, as well as the first season of Kordell Stewart starting at quarterback.

However, the Steelers didn't budge, finishing with an 11-5 record, their fourth consecutive AFC Central crown, and their sixth straight playoff appearance. In doing so, Steelers head coach Bill Cowher tied Hall of Famemarker coach Paul Brown with most consecutive playoff appearances to start a head coaching career in the NFL--a record Cowher still co-owns with Brown, as the Steelers missed the playoffs the following year.

The Steelers would host the AFC Championship game for the third time in four years. However, they would ultimately lose to the wild-card Denver Broncos in the AFC Title game.

Offseason

The Steelers saw many key free-agents leave the team, the biggest being cornerback Rod Woodson, whose ten-year tenure with the team ended due to a dispute over money with the Rooney family. Woodson would sign with the San Francisco 49ers as a result, though the Steelers would see him again in the following four seasons afterward as a member of the rival Baltimore Ravens. Other free-agent losses included Chad Brown, Ernie Mills, Andre Hastings, Deon Figures, and Brentson Buckner, among others. The team did manage to keep its other prized free-agent besides Woodson, locking up Jerome Bettis (who they had acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Rams the year before) with a four-year deal.

The team also had a transition at quarterback. After pushing Bill Cowher play exclusively at quarterback, Kordell Stewart was handed the starting job and dropping his "Slash" role on the team. Stewart would have success with the team this season, but would be inconsistent afterwards.

The team also made some minor changes to the uniforms this season, the first changes since gold pants were adopted as part of the white jerseys in 1972. The jersey numbers, previously having the old-style block numbering, were switched to the rounder style (Futura Condensed) as seen on the helmets. In addition, the Steelers logo was added to the left shoulder. The uniforms have remained the same since these changes as of 2007.

Regular season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Location Time (ET) TV Result Record
1 Sunday August 31 Dallas Cowboys Three Rivers Stadiummarker 1:00 PM FOX L 37–7 0-1
2 Sunday September 7 Washington Redskins Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 PM FOX W 14–13 1-1
3 Sunday September 14 Bye
4 Monday September 22 at Jacksonville Jaguars Alltel Stadiummarker 9:00 PM ABC L 30–21 1-2
5 Sunday September 28 Tennessee Oilers Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 PM NBC W 37–24 2-2
6 Sunday October 5 at Baltimore Ravens Memorial Stadiummarker 1:00 PM NBC W 42–34 3-2
7 Sunday October 12 Indianapolis Colts Three Rivers Stadium 8:00 PM TNT W 24–22 4-2
8 Sunday October 19 at Cincinnati Bengals Cinergy Fieldmarker 4:00 PM NBC W 26–10 5-2
9 Sunday October 26 Jacksonville Jaguars Three Rivers Stadium 4:00 PM NBC W 23–17 (OT) 6-2
10 Monday November 3 at Kansas City Chiefs Arrowhead Stadiummarker 9:00 PM ABC L 13–10 6-3
11 Sunday November 9 Baltimore Ravens Three Rivers Stadium 8:00 PM ESPN W 37–0 7-3
12 Sunday November 16 Cincinnati Bengals Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 PM NBC W 20–3 8-3
13 Sunday November 23 at Philadelphia Eagles Veterans Stadiummarker 1:00 PM NBC L 23–20 8-4
14 Sunday November 30 at Arizona Cardinals Sun Devil Stadiummarker 4:00 PM NBC W 26–20 (OT) 9-4
15 Sunday December 7 Denver Broncos Three Rivers Stadium 1:00 PM NBC W 35–24 10-4
16 Saturday December 13 at New England Patriots Foxboro Stadiummarker 4:00 PM NBC W 24–21 (OT) 11-4
17 Sunday December 21 at Tennessee Oilers Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadiummarker 1:00 PM NBC L 16–6 11-5


Game summaries

Week 1 (Sunday August 31, 1997): vs. Dallas Cowboys

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EDT
  • Game weather: 74°F (Partly Sunny)
  • Game attendance: 60,396
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (FOX) Pat Summerall (play by play), John Madden (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:

  • Dallas - Miller 12 pass from Aikman (Cunningham kick)
  • Dallas - Irvin 42 pass from Aikman (Cunningham kick)
  • Dallas - FG Cunningham 52
  • Dallas - Irvin 15 pass from Aikman (Cunningham kick)
  • Dallas - FG Cunningham 24
  • Dallas - Johnston 13 pass from Aikman (Cunningham kick)
  • Dallas - FG Cunningham 28
  • Pittsburgh - Bruener 4 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)


Week 2 (Sunday September 7, 1997): vs. Washington Redskins

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EDT
  • Game weather: 74°F (Partly Sunny)
  • Game attendance: 58,059
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (FOX) Dick Stockton (play by play), Matt Millen (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 1 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Washington - FG Blanton 37
  • Washington - Mitchell 97 kickoff return (Blanton kick)
  • Washington - FG Blanton 28
  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 1 run (N. Johnson kick)


Week 3 (Sunday September 14, 1997): Bye Week

Week 4 (Monday September 22, 1997): at Jacksonville Jaguars

at Alltel Stadiummarker, Jacksonville, Floridamarker



Scoring Drives:

  • Jacksonville - Means 1 run (Hollis kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 6 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Jacksonville - Smith 11 pass from Brunell (Hollis kick)
  • Jacksonville - FG Hollis 20
  • Pittsburgh - Thigpen 4 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Jacksonville - FG Hollis 45
  • Pittsburgh - Bruener 1 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Jacksonville - FG Hollis 27
  • Jacksonville - Hudson 58 blocked field goal return (Hollis kick)


Week 5 (Sunday September 28, 1997): vs. Tennessee Oilers

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EDT
  • Game weather: 67°F (Cloudy)
  • Game attendance: 57,507
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Jim Donovan (play by play), Beasley Reece (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:



Week 6 (Sunday October 5, 1997): at Baltimore Ravens

at Memorial Stadiummarker, Baltimore, Marylandmarker

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EDT
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 64,421
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Tom Hammond (play by play), Jim Kelly (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:

  • Baltimore - Green 22 pass from Testaverde (Stover kick)
  • Baltimore - Morris 1 run (Stover kick)
  • Baltimore - Kinchen 24 pass from Testaverde (Stover kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 1 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Baltimore - FG Stover 34
  • Pittsburgh - Blackwell 97 kickoff return (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - C. Johnson 8 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Bruener 4 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - C. Johnson 17 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Baltimore - Alexander 10 pass from Testaverde (Byner pass from Testaverde)
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 74 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Baltimore - Safety, Miller ran out of end zone


Week 7 (Sunday October 12, 1997): vs. Indianapolis Colts

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker



Scoring Drives:

  • Indianapolis - Harrison 18 pass from Harbaugh (Blanchard kick)
  • Indianapolis - FG Blanchard 37
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 23
  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 7 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Lake 38 fumble return (N. Johnson kick)
  • Indianapolis - FG Blanchard 27
  • Pittsburgh - Hawkins 28 pass from Tomczak (N. Johnson kick)
  • Indianapolis - FG Blanchard 35
  • Indianapolis - Stablein 5 pass from Harbaugh (pass failed)


Week 8 (Sunday October 19, 1997): at Cincinnati Bengals

at Cinergy Fieldmarker, Cincinnati, Ohiomarker

  • Game time: 4:00 PM EDT
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 60,020
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Dan Hicks (play by play), Bob Trumpy & Jim Kelly (color commentators)


Scoring Drives:

  • Cincinnati - Carter 6 run (Pelfrey kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Jones 11 pass from Stewart (pass failed)
  • PIttsburgh - Bettis 1 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Thigpen 11 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Cincinnati - FG Pelfrey 33
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 43
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 32


Week 9 (Sunday October 26, 1997): vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 4:00 PM EST
  • Game weather: 48°F (Light Rain)
  • Game attendance: 57,011
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Dick Enberg (play by play), Phil Simms & Paul Maguire (color commentators)


Scoring Drives:

  • Jacksonville - Jackson 8 pass from Brunell (Hollis kick)
  • Jacksonville - FG Hollis 20
  • Pittsburgh - Hawkins 28 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 1 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Jacksonville - Mitchell 3 pass from Brunell (Hollis kick)
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 19
  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 17 pass from Stewart


Week 10 (Monday November 3, 1997): at Kansas City Chiefs

at Arrowhead Stadiummarker, Kansas City, Missourimarker



Scoring Drives:



Week 11 (Sunday November 9, 1997): vs. Baltimore Ravens

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 8:00 PM EST
  • Game weather: 44°F (Cloudy)
  • Game attendance: 56,669
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (ESPN) Mike Patrick (play by play), Joe Theismann (color commentator), Ron Jaworski (sideline reporter)


Scoring Drives:



Week 12 (Sunday November 16, 1997): vs. Cincinnati Bengals

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EST
  • Game weather: 30°F (Light Snow)
  • Game attendance: 55,226
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Dan Hicks (play by play), Jim Kelly (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:



Week 13 (Sunday November 23, 1997): at Philadelphia Eagles

at Veterans Stadiummarker, Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EST
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 67,166
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Don Criqui (play by play), Jim Mora (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:

  • Philadelphia - Dunn 31 pass from Hoying (Boniol kick)
  • Philadelphia - Fryar 8 pass from Hoying (Boniol kick)
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 46
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 40
  • Philadelphia - FG Boniol 23
  • Philadelphia - FG Boniol 35
  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 19 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Philadelphia - FG Boniol 25
  • Pittsburgh - Blackwell 30 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)


Week 14 (Sunday November 30, 1997): at Arizona Cardinals

at Sun Devil Stadiummarker, Tempe, Arizonamarker

  • Game time: 4:00 PM EST
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 66,341
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Dan Hicks (play by play), Jim Kelly (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:



Week 15 (Sunday December 7, 1997): vs. Denver Broncos

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EST
  • Game weather: 31°F (Flurries)
  • Game attendance: 59,739
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Dick Enberg (play by play), Phil Simms & Paul Maguire (color commentators)


Scoring Drives:



Week 16 (Saturday December 13, 1997): at New England Patriots

at Foxboro Stadiummarker, Foxborough, Massachusettsmarker

  • Game time: 4:00 PM EST
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 60,013
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Dick Enberg (play by play), Phil Simms & Paul Maguire (color commentators)


Scoring Drives:



Week 17 (Sunday December 21, 1997): at Tennessee Oilers

at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadiummarker, Memphis, Tennesseemarker

  • Game time: 1:00 PM EST
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 50,677
  • Referee:
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Charlie Jones (play by play), Bob Trumpy (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:



Standings

AFC Central
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Pittsburgh Steelers 11 5 0 .688 372 307
Jacksonville Jaguars 11 5 0 .688 394 318
Tennessee Oilers 8 8 0 .500 333 310
Cincinnati Bengals 7 9 0 .438 355 405
Baltimore Ravens 6 9 1 .406 326 345


Post season

Game summaries

Both of the Steelers post-season matchups were rematches from the regular season. The Steelers had a first-round bye, then faced the AFC East champion (and defending AFC champion) New England Patriots at home. The game, which was a homecoming for young Patriots players & Pittsburgh area natives Ty Law and Curtis Martin (Martin was in fact playing in his last game with New England before signing with the New York Jets that offseason), was also a rematch of the previous year's AFC Divisional matchup, which took place in Foxboroughmarker.

After defeating the Pats, the Steelers would lose to the eventual Super Bowl XXXII champion Denver Broncos 24-21 in Elway's last trip to Pittsburgh.

AFC Divisional Playoff (Saturday January 3, 1998): vs. New England Patriots

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker

  • Game time: 12:30 PM EST
  • Game weather: 52°F (Light Rain)
  • Game attendance: 61,228
  • Referee: Walt Coleman
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Tom Hammond (play by play), Randy Cross (color commentator)


Scoring Drives:



AFC Championship Game (Sunday January 11, 1998): vs. Denver Broncos

at Three Rivers Stadiummarker, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker



Scoring Drives:



Honors and Awards

Pro Bowlers

See: 1998 Pro Bowl



References


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