If you the readers did not already hear, or read Jeff’s awesome post, Pittsburgh’s former starting Quarterback Kordell Stewart officially retired from football on Wednesday as a member of the Steelers. As we all remember, and would like to forget at times, Kordell’s career with Pittsburgh was highlighted by the “highest of highs” and unfortunately the “lowest of lows.” Because Kordell never led the Steelers to a title, most of us, myself included, have thought much more about the lows than the highs in the seasons since he left town.
Yet for all of his down-moments which we choose to remember, he also made some pretty incredible plays and played some great games for the Steelers during his tenure in Pittsburgh. With that in mind, I thought it would be nice to shy away from a “Negative Nancy” attitude and post my “Top Ten” Memories of Kordell Stewart’s career with the Steelers.
10. Kordell’s First Professional Touchdown Pass
Monday Night Football
Steelers 20 vs. Browns 3
November 13, 1995
After the 5-4 Steelers got through a marathon of an Overtime game against Chicago the week before, they took on the 4-5 Browns on Monday Night Football at Three Rivers Stadium in an important A.F.C. Central game This provided a great setting for “Slash” to show off his talents. Stewart actually kicked off the scoring in the 2nd Quarter when the Steelers entered the Red Zone. I can still remember how excited I was to see him in the game lined up at Quarterback at the 2 Yard Line with a chance to score. He did not disappoint me in that specific instance.
Kordell’s first ever Touchdown pass illustrated not only his athleticism, but his ability to put pressure on the opposition because of his versatility. He rolled all the way to the right sideline from the left hash, saw nothing, then rolled back to the left and found a wide-open Ernie Mills for the score in the back of the end zone to draw first blood! It was a good night for Stewart overall, as he ran the option a bit and racked up 13 Yards rushing and made 2 grabs for 21 Yards as well.
9. “Slash” Does It All Against the Patriots
Steelers 41 vs. Patriots 27
December 16, 1995
In a late season game against the Patriots during his Rookie season, Kordell was at his versatile “best” and chipped in nicely that afternoon. Kordell’s best play came when he turned a 22 Yard run into a Touchdown in the 3rd Quarter and extended the Steelers’ lead to 24-12 in a game they eventually won late in the 4th Quarter. The run was quite impressive as Stewart made a couple guys miss and slipped a Tackle inside the 10. On the day, Kordell even threw a few passes and went 2 for 3 for 41 Yards in addition to his 25 Yards total on the ground. It was just another day at the office for the Steelers and Stewart as the team was working him steadily into their game plans.
8. Career-High Run in Carolina
Panthers 18 vs. Steelers 14
December 22, 1996
Nothing was there, so he just stepped up in the pocket and started to run. The thing was, nobody caught him. Thanks to the Defense covering the Receivers and some solid blocks down the field, Stewart got to the second level and just turned on the jets down the left sideline and did not stop until he crossed into the end zone. This play was Kordell making something out of nothing, and essentially outrunning an entire Defense by himself. Kordell did not have a great day otherwise (8 for 21 for 77 Yards and 2 INT’s), because despite the fact that the Steelers led 14-9 and Stewart’s run plus an Andrew Hastings’ Touchdown catch erased a 9-0 deficit, the Steelers lost the game in the Second Half. Nevertheless, not many Running Backs break 80 Yard runs in their careers, and Stewart’s sprint in Charlotte was pretty darn incredible that day.
7. “Slash” Has Best Day as a Passer Ever
Steelers 23 vs. Jaguars 17 (OT)
October 26, 1997
Kordell Stewart picked the right regular season game to throw for the most Yards during his career, because the Steelers needed every one of them that afternoon/evening as they beat the Jaguars and catapulted themselves into 1st place in the A.F.C. Central that season. Down 10-0 at Halftime, the Steelers and Stewart responded like champions. Stewart directed a scoring drive capped off by a 28 Yard Touchdown pass to Courtney Hawkins to make the game 10-7. Then a defensive stand at the Goal Line allowed the Steelers to take over at their own 2, and Stewart led a 98 Yard scoring drive which ended with a 1 Yard Touchdown run by him. Jacksonville then went ahead 17-14, and the Steelers tied it on a Norm Johnson Field Goal with just over 2 minutes to play.
The stage was set for Overtime, and Kordell and Jerome Bettis played the heroes. Stewart flipped a shovel pass to Bettis just inside the Jaguars’ 20 Yard Line, and the 17 Yard Touchdown catch and run was a walk-off win of epic proportions and a coming out party for “Slash” the Quarterback. Stewart threw for 317 Yards and the 2 Touchdowns, and rushed for 37 and the first go-ahead score. With the win, Pittsburgh had taken a 1-game lead over the Jaguars for the Divisional crown, and as the season unfolded, this was the game which ultimately gave the Steelers the upper-hand in the A.F.C. Central.
6. Tight-rope Run Just Enough for Steelers to Win
A.F.C. Divisional Playoff
Steelers 7 vs. Patriots 6
January 3, 1998
The Steelers faced off against the Patriots in the Divisional Round of the 1997 Playoffs at Three Rivers Stadium, and boy what a Defensive struggle it was. Despite the fact that only 13 points total were scored, it did not stop Kordell Stewart from making the game’s biggest play in the 1st Quarter. Stewart raced down the sideline on a run near midfield and proceeded to score the game’s only Touchdown on said 40 yard dash. The run was huge because it would be the only points that the Steelers would score that day. Tight-roping the sidelines and making something out of nothing with his legs, Kordell was his vintage self on that play. The rest of Stewart’s day was rather pedestrian (14 for 31 for 134 Yards and 1 INT), but the fact he could rip off a 40 Yard run when it was open for him to do so reminds me of how much of a weapon he truly was that season.