Monday, April 19, 2010

The 50 Most Exciting Pittsburgh Wins Since 1990

As storied as Pittsburgh is when it comes to sports history, I was still surprised to think that you could tally up 50 big wins in the last 20 years. A third of this list may be filled with Pitt Panthers lameness, but the rest is solid black and gold moments. I remember jumping (and reinjuring) my broken ankle when Mario scored in his comeback game (#38). I remember leaping on the couch and dropping burning hot pizza on my leg when Straka undressed Olie the Goalie in Game 6 OT against the Caps (#46). I remember not being able to stay awake back in 1995, but my Dad told me the next morning how Petr Nedved won the game after 4 OTs (#15). Of course, the counter-memory to that is not being able to stay awake in 2000 and watching Keith Primeau break our spirits after 5 OTs. And finally, all of the awesome Steeler victories in recent memory make me think of being lazy at Penn State.

Read through the list to see what entries are overrated (#17 and #32) and which ones are underrated (#23). Below is a quick breakdown of how many times each team makes an appearance on the list (yes... I know they add up to 49), and then an in-depth look at the Top 10.

Steelers - 12
Pens - 18
Pirates - 3
Pitt football - 8
Pitt basketball - 8

1. 2/1/09 - Super Bowl 43 - Steelers 27, Cardinals 23 – No surprise here. On sports' biggest stage, the Steelers 6th championship provided big plays, last-second heroics, and some sweet HD visuals. I watched this game at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Appleton, WI amidst a sea of Steeler haters. It was a w e s o m e .

2. 6/12/09 - Stanley Cup Game 7 - Penguins 2, Red Wings 1 – After the Steelers SB43 victory, I jumped and danced in the B-Dubs parking lot, but that feeling cannot compare to jumping up and down in my present-day apartment here in SW Ohio. The long grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs.... coming back and taking the wings to 7... just the general underdog feeling against the Big Red Machine... it all combines for a moment far sweeter than any Super Bowl.

3. 5/26/92 - Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 - Penguins 5, Blackhawks 4 -I have no problem with this game being listed at number 3, but I definitely do not remember watching it. I was just finishing up kindergarten when this was played, so in all likelihood I was napping.

4. 5/25/91 - Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 - Penguins 8, North Stars 0 – Ditto to this. Jay could probably be the only one to write about this, but I doubt he watched it, either.

5. 1/15/06 - AFC Divisional Game – Steelers 21, Colts 18 – Before 2009, this probably would've been my number victory of all time. After all, I had never experienced a championship season before this. I was used to getting kicked around by the Broncos, Patriots, and a number of other teams that always seemed to be better than the Steelers come January. But it was this game that had me convinced we were Super Bowl bound. Betting on the Steelers to win when they were huge underdogs sure didn't hurt, either. I watched this game in my dorm room with Dave and Andy, and I remember collapsing to the ground after Buttis' fumble, only to jump up and run down the hall shouting after Vanderjagt hooked his field goal, which is still probably sailing wide right.

6. 12/1/07 - Pitt 13, West Virginia 9 – Who cares? Not me.

7. 6/2/08 Stanley Cup Game 5 Penguins 4, Red Wings 3 (3 OT) – The 2008 Pens Playoff run often hinted at greatness and comparisons to Star Wars, but in the end it wasn't meant to be. Once such glimmer of hope was Petr Sykora, not long after calling his shot to Pierre McGuire, drilling the game-winner in OT. I was watching this at my mom's house to take a break from my Elder Scrolls marathon, which was much more fun than watching the Pens blow it in Game 6.

8. 1/14/96 - AFC Championship - Steelers 20, Colts 16 – One of my oldest memories as a Steelers fan is 3 more yards back in 1995. I watched that heartbreaking championship defeat (the first of many under Cowher's regime) at my Pap's house, and I remember storming out onto the porch after it happened, but probably only because my older brother did it first. Anyway, the next year went much better, as I again got to sing "Here We Go" all the way to my Pap's house to watch the Steelers prevent a desperate Hail Mary from the Comeback Kid.

9. 5/10/01 -Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 7 - Penguins 3, Sabres 2 (OT) – The year of Lemieux's comeback, the Pens memorable playoff push involved OT clinchers against both Washington and Buffalo, but the Game 7 victory deserves it's spot in the Top Ten. Probably the unlikeliest of heroes on this entire list, Darius Kasparaitis threw a weak shot at the net that my dad could probably kick save, and yet it found it's way past the Dominator. I also watched this game at my Pap's house, and like the Game 6 clincher against the Caps, it ended with me jumping up and down on the couch.

10. 6/9/09 Stanley Cup Game 6 Penguins 2, Red Wings 1 - I'm not sure this one really deserves to be in the Top Ten. It was more tense and nerve-racking than exciting, and I'd put the Game 7 annihilation of Ovechkin's crew (#14) ahead of this snoozefest. To reinforce how boring it was, I watched this game alone in my apartment, and probably even forget to wear my Crosby jersey.

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