1997 Pittsburgh Steelers season
OwnerThe Rooney Family
Head coachBill Cowher
General managerTom Donahoe
Home fieldThree Rivers Stadium
Results
Record11–5
Division place1st AFC Central
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (vs. Patriots) 7–6
Lost AFC Championship (vs. Broncos) 21–24
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros
5
  • Dermontti Dawson (1st team)
  • Levon Kirkland (1st team)
  • Carnell Lake (1st team)
  • Jerome Bettis (2nd team)
  • Yancey Thigpen (2nd team)
Team MVPJerome Bettis
Team ROYChad Scott

The 1997 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the franchise's 65th season as a professional sports franchise and as a member of the National Football League.

This 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.

The Steelers finished with an 11–5 record, their fourth consecutive AFC Central top seed, 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 went into the season introducing a new font style numbers on jerseys matching the ones they wear on the helmets and the Steelers logo patch on uniform.

The Steelers would host the AFC Championship Game for the third time in four years; however, they would ultimately lose to the eventual Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. That game was the last playoff appearance for the Steelers during the 1990s and they did not return to the postseason until 2001.

This remains the only time in their history the Steelers defeated the Patriots in the playoffs.

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 and the names became single color (black) fonts on the white away jersey. The names returned to gold on black the following year. The uniforms have remained the same since these changes as of 2007.

NFL Draft

Main article: 1997 NFL draft

1997 Pittsburgh Steelers draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 24 Chad Scott  Cornerback Maryland
2 53 Will Blackwell  Wide receiver San Diego State
3 82 Paul Wiggins  Tackle Oregon
3 91 Mike Vrabel *  Linebacker Ohio State
5 154 George Jones  Running back San Diego State
6 186 Daryl Porter  Safety Boston College
6 199 Rod Manuel  Defensive end Oklahoma
7 223 Mike Adams  Wide Receiver Texas
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

Personnel

Staff

1997 Pittsburgh Steelers staff
Front office
  • President – Daniel M. Rooney
  • Vice President – John R. McGinley
  • Vice President – Arthur J. Rooney, Jr.
  • Vice President and General Counsel – Arthur J. Rooney II
  • Administration Advisor – Chuck Noll
  • Director of Business – Mark Hart
  • Business Coordinator – Dan Ferens
  • Accounts Coordinator – Jim Ellenberger
  • Office/Ticket Manager – Geraldine Glenn
  • Marketing Coordinator – Mark Fuhrman
  • Merchandising Manager – Tim Carey
  • Assistant Marketing Manager – Lynne Molyneaux
  • Media Relations Coordinator – Rob Boulware
  • Assistant/Community Relations – Ron Miller
  • Football Operations
  • Director of Football Operations – Tom Donahoe
  • Personnel Staff
  • College Personnel Coordinator – Tom Modrak
  • Pro Personnel Coordinator – Charles Bailey
  • College Scout – Bob Lane
  • College Scout – Max McCartney
  • College Scout – Phil Kreidler
  • BLESTO College Scout – Mark Gorscak

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

Strength and conditioning

  • Conditioning Coordinator – Chet Fuhrman
  • Medical Staff
  • Ophthalmologist – Dr. Randy Beatty
  • Physician, Orthopedic – Dr. James P. Bradley
  • Neurological Surgery Consultant – Dr. Joseph Maroon
  • Physician, M.D. – Dr. Richard Rydze
  • Physician, Consultant – Dr. Abraham J. Twerski
  • Physician, M.D. – Dr. Anthony P. Yates
  • Training Staff
  • Head Trainer – John Norwig
  • Assistant Trainer – Rick Burkholder
  • Equipment Manager – Rodgers Freyvogel
  • Field Manager – Rich Baker
  • Field/Equipment Assistant – Paul Gallagher
  • Equipment Consultant – Tony Parisi
  • Video Coordinator – Bob McCartney
  • Video Assistant – Pat Dolan
  • Player Development Coordinator – Anthony Griggs
  • Photographers – Mike Fabus, Bill Amatucci,Michael Drazdzinski

[2]

Notable additions include Paul Wiggins and Mike Vrabel.

Roster

1997 Pittsburgh Steelers final roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists


Practice squad

[2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


Rookies in italics
51 active, 3 inactive, 6 practice squad

Season

Preseason

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Game Site
1 July 27 vs. Chicago Bears W 30–17 1–0 Croke Park (Dublin, Ireland)
2 August 2 at Kansas City Chiefs W 28–14 2–0 Arrowhead Stadium
3 August 11 Philadelphia Eagles W 42–26 3–0 Three Rivers Stadium
4 August 17 Detroit Lions W 28–20 4–0 Three Rivers Stadium
5 August 22 at Carolina Panthers W 27–19 5–0 Ericsson Stadium

Regular season

Schedule

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

Game summaries

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Cowboys 0 17 17 3 37
Steelers 0 0 0 7 7

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Redskins 0 3 10 0 13
Steelers 7 0 0 7 14

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 7 0 7 7 21
Jaguars 7 10 3 10 30

at Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Oilers 0 6 3 15 24
Steelers 10 21 3 3 37

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 7 14 21 42
Ravens 14 10 0 10 34

at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Colts 10 0 3 9 22
Steelers 0 17 7 0 24

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 0 13 7 6 26
Bengals 7 0 3 0 10

at Cinergy Field, Cincinnati

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4OT Total
Jaguars 0 10 0 70 17
Steelers 0 0 7 106 23

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 10 0 0 0 10
Chiefs 0 13 0 0 13

at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Ravens 0 0 0 0 0
Steelers 10 10 10 7 37

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Bengals 0 0 3 0 3
Steelers 3 3 7 7 20

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 3 3 7 7 20
Eagles 14 3 3 3 23

at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4OT Total
Steelers 7 3 7 36 26
Cardinals 0 3 14 30 20

at Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Broncos 14 7 3 0 24
Steelers 7 14 7 7 35

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4OT Total
Steelers 0 7 3 113 24
Patriots 0 14 0 70 21

at Foxboro Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Steelers 3 0 0 3 6
Oilers 3 10 3 0 16

at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee

Scoring Drives:

Standings

AFC Central
W L T PCT PF PA STK
(2) Pittsburgh Steelers 11 5 0 .688 372 307 L1
(5) Jacksonville Jaguars 11 5 0 .688 394 318 W2
Tennessee Oilers 8 8 0 .500 333 310 W1
Cincinnati Bengals 7 9 0 .438 355 405 W3
Baltimore Ravens 6 9 1 .406 326 345 L1

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, 1998): vs. New England Patriots

1 2 3 4 Total
Patriots 0 3 0 3 6
Steelers 7 0 0 0 7

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

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

1 2 3 4 Total
Broncos 7 17 0 0 24
Steelers 7 7 0 7 21

at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scoring Drives:

Honors and awards

Pro Bowlers

See: 1998 Pro Bowl

All-Pros

References

  1. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com: In a single season, from 1990 to 1999, in the NFL, in the regular season, sorted by descending Rushing Att.
  2. ^ a b 1997 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  3. ^ 1998 Pittsburgh Steelers Media Guide.
  4. ^ "1997 Pittsburgh Steelers". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-12-24.
  5. ^ "1998 Pittsburgh Steelers". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-12-24.
  6. ^ "1999 Pittsburgh Steelers". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-12-24.