The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the NFL playoffs leading up to Super Bowl 40 as a Wild Card team, who many expected would not make a lot of noise in the postseason. The Steelers then shattered all expectations and became the first ever No. 6 playoff seed to emerge victorious in the Super Bowl.
Throughout that season, the Steelers were led by a young Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Hines Ward, and safety Troy Polamalu. Yet, there are various players who contributed to that championship run who don't get the credit they deserve.
3. Heath Miller
Most the receiving duties for the Steelers in their championship season fell on Hines Ward, who caught 69 passes for 975 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El put up impressive numbers with 558 receiving yards. But, tight end Heath Miller put out very similar statistics to Randle El, and was a top red zone target, and yet does not get the credit he deserves. In the regular season, Miller caught 39 passes for 459 yards, good for third best on the team. He also caught six touchdowns, which was second best on the team. If those numbers alone are not impressive enough, that season was Miller's first in the NFL. During the playoffs, Miller did not light the world on fire, but made a clutch play that helped the Steelers make it to the Super Bowl. In the divisional round game against the Indianapolis Colts, Miller caught a touchdown in what ended up being a close 31-28 upset victory for the Steelers.
2. Clark Haggans
On the stellar 2005 Steelers' defense, a good deal of the attention went to safety Troy Polamalu and his long, flowing hair. Polamalu certainly had an impressive season, making 92 totals tackles, recording 3 sacks, and being named to the Pro Bowl. But, linebacker Clark Haggans had an incredibly productive season that was overshadowed by Polamalu's star power. In the regular season, Haggans was second on the team with nine sacks, and recorded 61 tackles, good for 6th on the Steelers. He also registered seven tackles for loss, which was 5th best on that squad. Yet, Haggans was not even named to the Pro Bowl or to the All-Pro First Team. To show how truly unrecognized Haggans went compared to the other players on that defense, the leader in sacks that year was linebacker Joey Portrer, who had 10.5 of his own. Haggans was easily one of the best players on that Steelers' defense, but didn't not get the attention he deserved.
1. Larry Foote
Another player who went fairly unrecognized due to high level and flashy star players on the Steelers' defense is linebacker Larry Foote. In the 2005 regular season, Foote amassed a spectacular 102 total tackles. He was only one of two players on that squad who registered more than 100 tackles, the other being linebacker James Farrior who led the squad with 121. On top of standard tackles, Foote led the defense in tackles for loss with 13, while the next closest player had nine. Along with being a high-level tackler, he also had three sacks, which was good for fourth on the team. Foote also continued his high-level play into the postseason and registered a half-sack in the Steelers' Wild Card matchup against the Bengals. Later, in the AFC Championship game Foote made an interception against the Denver Broncos, and then capped off his postseason play with yet another tackle for loss in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks.