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1997 Pittsburgh Steelers season
Head Coach Bill Cowher
Home Field Three Rivers Stadium
Results
Record 11-5
Place 1st in AFC Central
Playoff Finish Lost to the Denver Broncos for the AFC Championship
Pro Bowlers
Team MVP Jerome Bettis
Team ROY Chad Scott
Timeline
Previous Season Next Season
1996 1998

The 1997 Pittsburgh Steelers season was considered a transitional year 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 finished 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 Fame 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 had 572 rushing attempts in 1997, the most in the 1990s.[1] Their 2,479 total rushing yards were the third-most of the decade by any team.

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 Result Record
1 Sunday August 31 Dallas Three Rivers Stadium L 37–7 0-1
2 Sunday September 7 Washington Three Rivers Stadium W 14–13 1-1
3 Sunday September 14 Bye
4 Monday September 22 at Jacksonville Alltel Stadium L 30–21 1-2
5 Sunday September 28 Tennessee Three Rivers Stadium W 37–24 2-2
6 Sunday October 5 at Baltimore Memorial Stadium W 42–34 3-2
7 Sunday October 12 Indianapolis Three Rivers Stadium W 24–22 4-2
8 Sunday October 19 at Cincinnati Cinergy Field W 26–10 5-2
9 Sunday October 26 Jacksonville Three Rivers Stadium W 23–17 (OT) 6-2
10 Monday November 3 at Kansas City Arrowhead Stadium L 13–10 6-3
11 Sunday November 9 Baltimore Three Rivers Stadium W 37–0 7-3
12 Sunday November 16 Cincinnati Three Rivers Stadium W 20–3 8-3
13 Sunday November 23 at Philadelphia Veterans Stadium L 23–20 8-4
14 Sunday November 30 at Arizona Sun Devil Stadium W 26–20 (OT) 9-4
15 Sunday December 7 Denver Three Rivers Stadium W 35–24 10-4
16 Saturday December 13 at New England Foxboro Stadium W 24–21 (OT) 11-4
17 Sunday December 21 at Tennessee Liberty Bowl L 16–6 11-5

Game summaries

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

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 0 17 17 3 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 0 0 0 7 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time: 1:00 pm EDT
  • Game weather: 74 °F (Partly Sunny)
  • Game attendance: 60,396
  • Referee: Jerry Markbreit
  • 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): vs. Washington Redskins

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Redskins 0 3 10 0 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 7 0 0 7 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time: 1:00 pm EDT
  • Game weather: 74 °F (Partly Sunny)
  • Game attendance: 58,059
  • Referee: Ron Blum
  • 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): Bye Week

Week 4 (Monday September 22): at Jacksonville Jaguars

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 7 0 7 7 {{{RTotal}}}
Jaguars 7 10 3 10 {{{HTotal}}}


at Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida

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): vs. Tennessee Oilers

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Oilers 0 6 3 15 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 10 21 3 3 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 7 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - FG Johnson 48
  • Pittsburgh - Gildon 12 fumble return (N. Johnson kick)
  • Tennessee - FG Del Greco 37
  • Pittsburgh - Bruener 18 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 2 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Tennessee - FG Del Greco 47
  • Tennessee - FG Del Greco 26
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 25
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 44
  • Tennessee - Wycheck 10 pass from McNair (Wycheck pass from McNair)
  • Tennessee - Davis 11 pass from McNair (Del Greco kick)

Week 6 (Sunday October 5): at Baltimore Ravens

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 7 14 21 {{{RTotal}}}
Ravens 14 10 0 10 {{{HTotal}}}


at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

  • Game time: 1:00 pm EDT
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 64,421
  • Referee: Bill Carollo
  • 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): vs. Indianapolis Colts

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Colts 10 0 3 9 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 0 17 7 0 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time: 8:00 pm EDT
  • Game weather: 66 °F (Clear)
  • Game attendance: 57,925
  • Referee: Tom White
  • TV announcers: (TNT) Verne Lundquist (play by play), Pat Haden & Mark May (color commentators), Craig Sager (sideline reporter)

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): at Cincinnati Bengals

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 13 7 6 {{{RTotal}}}
Bengals 7 0 3 0 {{{HTotal}}}


at Cinergy Field, Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Game time: 4:00 pm EDT
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 60,020
  • Referee: Phil Luckett
  • 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): vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Jaguars 0 10 0 7 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 0 0 7 10 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time: 4:00 pm EST
  • Game weather: 48 °F (Light Rain)
  • Game attendance: 57,011
  • Referee: Gary Lane
  • 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): at Kansas City Chiefs

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 10 0 0 0 {{{RTotal}}}
Chiefs 0 13 0 0 {{{HTotal}}}


at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh - Hawkins 44 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 27
  • Kansas City - FG Stoyanovich 35
  • Kansas City - FG Stoyanovich 44
  • Kansas City - Hughes 14 pass from Allen (Stoyanovich kick)

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

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Ravens 0 0 0 0 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 10 10 10 7 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 1 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 52
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 1 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 22
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 39
  • Pittsburgh - Thigpen 52 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Jones 1 run (N. Johnson kick)

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

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Bengals 0 0 3 0 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 3 3 7 7 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 34
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 25
  • Pittsburgh - Thigpen 20 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Cincinnati - FG Pelfrey 25
  • Pittsburgh - Bruener 5 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)

Week 13 (Sunday November 23): at Philadelphia Eagles

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 3 3 7 7 {{{RTotal}}}
Eagles 14 3 3 3 {{{HTotal}}}


at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Game time: 1:00 pm EST
  • Game weather:
  • Game attendance: 67,166
  • Referee: Jerry Markbreit
  • 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): at Arizona Cardinals

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 7 3 7 3 {{{RTotal}}}
Cardinals 0 3 14 3 {{{HTotal}}}


at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona

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

Scoring Drives:

  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 2 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Arizona - FG Nedney 32
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 40
  • Arizona - Sanders 3 pass from Plummer (Nedney kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 7 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Arizona - Gedney 11 pass from Plummer (Nedney kick)
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 39
  • Arizona - FG Nedney 19
  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 10 run

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

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Broncos 14 7 3 0 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 7 14 7 7 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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

Scoring Drives:

  • Denver - R. Smith 37 pass from Elway (Elam kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Thigpen 33 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Denver - Davis 3 run (Elam kick)
  • Denver - R. Smith 25 pass from Elway (Elam kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Thigpen 69 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Thigpen 21 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)
  • Denver - FG Elam 35
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 4 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 9 run (N. Johnson kick)

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

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 7 3 11 {{{RTotal}}}
Patriots 0 14 0 7 {{{HTotal}}}


at Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

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

Scoring Drives:

  • New England - Coates 18 pass from Bledsoe (Vinatieri kick)
  • New England - Gash 1 pass from Bledsoe (Vinatieri kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 1 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 36
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 34
  • New England - Meggett 49 pass from Bledsoe (Vinatieri kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Bruener 1 pass from Stewart (Thigpen pass from Stewart)
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 31

Week 17 (Sunday December 21): at Tennessee Oilers

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 3 0 0 3 {{{RTotal}}}
Oilers 3 10 3 0 {{{HTotal}}}


at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee

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

Scoring Drives:

  • Tennessee - FG Del Greco 34
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 23
  • Tennessee - Thomas 25 run (Del Greco kick)
  • Tennessee - FG Del Greco 29
  • Tennessee - FG Del Greco 26
  • Pittsburgh - FG N. Johnson 36

Standings

Template:1997 AFC Central standings

Playoffs

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 Foxborough.

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): vs. New England Patriots

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Patriots 0 3 0 3 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 7 0 0 0 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • 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:

  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 40 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • New England - FG Vinatieri 31
  • New England - FG Vinatieri 46

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

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Broncos 7 17 0 0 {{{RTotal}}}
Steelers 7 7 0 7 {{{HTotal}}}


at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Game time: 12:30 pm EST
  • Game weather: 34 °F (Mostly Sunny)
  • Game attendance: 61,382
  • Referee: Ron Blum
  • TV announcers: (NBC) Dick Enberg (play by play), Phil Simms & Paul Maguire (color commentators), Jim Gray & John Dockery (sideline reporters)

Scoring Drives:

  • Denver - Davis 8 run (Elam kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Stewart 33 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Pittsburgh - Bettis 1 run (N. Johnson kick)
  • Denver - FG Elam 43
  • Denver - Griffith 16 pass from Elway (Elam kick)
  • Denver - McCaffrey 1 pass from Elway (Elam kick)
  • Pittsburgh - C. Johnson 15 pass from Stewart (N. Johnson kick)

Honors and awards

Pro Bowlers

See: 1998 Pro Bowl

  • No. 36 Jerome Bettis-Running Back
  • No. 37 Carnell Lake-Safety
  • No. 63 Dermontti Dawson-Center
  • No. 82 Yancey Thigpen-Wide Receiver
  • No. 93 Joel Steed-Nose Tackle
  • No. 99 Levon Kirkland-Inside Linebacker

References

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