In my 20 years of covering Pittsburgh sports and 46 years of following them as a fan, Ive never ever seen a Pittsburgh team get off to an even worse start in a postseason game than the Steelers did in the postseason loss to the Browns Sunday night.
They came down 28-0 in the very first quarter. They snapped the ball into the end zone for a Cleveland protective goal on the very first play. Ben Roethlisberger threw 2 interceptions and led a three-and-out, translating into 21 more Cleveland points over the remaining 14 minutes, 46 seconds prior to the quarter mercifully ended.
It was such a bad start, it put the horrid very first quarter of the groups newest playoff effort to shame. Thats when the Steelers came down 14-0 to Jacksonville after allowing a game-opening goal march of 66 backyards to go along with a punt, an interception and a turnover on downs that led to a third Jags touchdown at the start of the 2nd quarter.
No, that one doesnt even come close.
Here are a couple of others that came to mind as I patched together a list of dreadful playoff starts that can, a minimum of, be mentioned in the same breath as the Steelers two newest journeys to the postseason.
1. 1991 NLCS Game 7: Having failed to eliminate the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the 1991 National League Championship Series, the Pirates had another shot to sew up the National League pennant and get to the franchises very first World Series since 1979.
That hope didnt last long. Atlantas Ron Gant struck a first-inning sacrifice fly. Then Brian Hunter struck a two-run first-inning house run, and the Braves knocked John Smiley off the mound after tape-recording simply 2 outs.
Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz went on to twirl a six-hit shutout.
Arrieta ended up with a complete-game five-hit shutout, consisting of 11 strikeouts. The Cubs won 4-0.
5. A couple of bad Game 1 starts: Lets look at some “big picture” bad starts of a few series for the Penguins in Game 1 contests.
Some “teachable moments”– if you will– at the dawn of the Crosby-Malkin period.
How about Game 1 of the 2007 quarterfinals versus the veteran Ottawa Senators? That was the very first postseason game ever for that group.
There was Game 1 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final in Detroit. The Red Wings won the seroes in 6 games.
In 07, the Penguins looked young and not quite all set for the playoffs. They learned. And got to the Final in 08.
Where the Red Wings made them look not rather prepared for that stage either. Until the next year when …
… OK, roll that clip, too.
Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review personnel writer. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.
” Bream to the plate … SAFE! SAFE AT THE PLATE! The @Braves go to the World Series!”
See the impressive Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS at 2:30 pm and 10pm ET on MLB Network pic.twitter.com/RyzGYSXrnJ
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) April 3, 2020
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The Pirates had won 1-0 in Game 5 behind Zane Smith. They lost 1-0 to Steve Avery in Game 6. So the Bucs handled simply 16 hits and 2 runs over the last 27 innings of play.
The Braves went on to lose the World Series to the Minnesota Twins. Lets get it over with.
On this day 1991: The #Braves won their very first National League pennant given that moving from Milwaukee. Brian Hunter belted a two-run crowning achievement in the 1st inning and John Smoltz fired a 4-0 shutout at the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 7 of the NLCS. pic.twitter.com/A0qeLjbeYC
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) October 17, 2019
Number 1: Marc-Andre Fleurys save versus Nicklas Lidstrom as time expires in Game 7 to win the 2009 Stanley Cup for the @penguins pic.twitter.com/bsDVPH2m53
— Master Chief official (@wyattinator) April 1, 2020
Ironically, the Pirates left to an excellent start because video game. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead and took a 2-0 lead into the ninth before THAT took place.
2. Game 7 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals: Much like the series above, the Penguins stopped working to get rid of the underdog Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 when they had the opportunity.
Video game 7 was back in Pittsburgh. That would end up being the last game in Mellon Arena if the Penguins lost. Which is exactly what wound up holding true.
Sidney Crosby took a charge 10 seconds into the game. Brian Gionta scored on the occurring power play 22 seconds later. Previous Penguin Dominic Moore scored later in the period, and the Canadiens wound up adding on two more goals early in the second.
Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled, and the Penguins goaltender smashed his stick and nearly tore down the tarpaulin over the pathway into the locker space.
Montreal wound up winning the video game, removing the Penguins and closing Mellon Arena.
3. Video game 6 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals: The Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers had actually played a crazy first five games of this series that featured 50 objectives– and roughly 51 battles if memory serves.
The Flyers won the first 3 games. The Pens ditched back to survive over the next 2. So the series shifted back to Philadelphia for Game 6.
On that infamous very first shift, Claude Giroux decked Crosby and scored an objective 32 seconds into the game.
Scott Hartnell also scored in the very first. And the Flyers skipped into the 2nd round with a 5-1 removal win.
That was the so-called “death of the baton video game” from Crosby to Giroux.
I believe its safe to say Crosby got that baton back ultimately, no?
4. 2015 National League Wild Card: At PNC Park, the Pirates hosted the Cubs and Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta in their third straight wild-card video game.
Arrieta was virtually unhittable all year. And the Pirates knew they could not afford to get down early and offer up any inexpensive runs. So manager Clint Hurdle began Sean Rodriguez initially base for his defensive prowess, benching Pedro Alvarez and his bat.
In the very first inning, Gerrit Cole permitted a lead-off single to Dexter Fowler. He took 2nd. Kyle Schwarber drove him in, and Rodriguez couldnt deal with a low throw from Neil Walker which permitted Anthony Rizzo to reach base. Cole had to throw 22 pitches.
In the bottom of the very first, Andrew McCutchen handled to get a single. Arrieta struck out Starling Marte. And the energy was sapped from the structure.
Whatever was left on the vapor path from Schwarbers 430-foot crowning achievement in the third inning. And the video game was essentially over.
Oh, other than for the benches-clearing incident and “S-Rod” knocking out the Gatorade cooler.
Now we are even.
6. Super Bowl XXX: Well finish up with one more from the Steelers. Super Bowl XXX versus the greatly preferred Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas got a field objective on the opening drive. The Steelers went three-and-out.
Troy Aikman got the ball back and threw a 47-yard bomb to Deion Sanders– playing offense. You know, simply to be Deion. Jay Novacek captured a goal. And it was 10-0 before the pizza guy got to your home.
The Steelers got down 13-0, then 20-7. They rushed back before losing 27-17 because Larry Brown obstructed Neil ODo …
… NO!!! We arent rolling those clips.
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The Pirates had actually won 1-0 in Game 5 behind Zane Smith. If the Penguins lost, that would end up being the last game in Mellon Arena. The Flyers won the very first 3 games. The series moved back to Philadelphia for Game 6.
That was the very first postseason game ever for that group.