Peanut butter and jelly. Abbott and Costello. The Pittsburgh Steelers and a rapid increase in your blood pressure every Sunday. Some of the world’s truest reliable duos.
That got me to thinking. Who are the best tandems in Steelers’ history? A dynamic duo who dominated the league. If one guy didn’t make the play, the other did. With such a long and storied history, it was difficult to come up with a list. But here’s my order of the top ten in black and gold. These are all players who played the same position, weighed by individual talent and the success shared together. So you won’t see, for example, QB to WR combinations on this list because if I did, that’s basically all this list would consist of (Bradshaw to Swann, Bradshaw to Stallworth, Ben to Ward, Ben to Brown, you get the idea). And these are duos only. Buddy system here, only pairs of two, not three or more.
Before we unveil #2 and #1 on our list, though I’m pretty sure you can at least guess the pairings, I wanted to go through the honorable mentions. Names on my initial list who didn’t quite make the cut. A short overview for each of these guys. Listing them in no particular order.
DTs Joe Greene & Ernie Holmes (1972-1977)
Maybe the most notable omission from the list simply because of who Joe Greene is. That is, the greatest player in franchise history. Holmes made up the 4th member of the Steel Curtain along with Dwight White and LC Greenwood. But he didn’t make a Pro Bowl and wasn’t around for the final two Super Bowls, dropping them out of the top ten. When Holmes was at his best though, he rounded out one of the best defensive lines football’s ever seen.
WRs Antonio Brown & JuJu Smith-Schuster (2017-2018)
Had they played perhaps one more season with similar success as the first two, they probably would’ve snuck into the top ten. Two different styles. A little Swann/Stallworth like. Brown more graceful, Stallworth a little more no-nonsense. But each style highly effective and a nightmare for defenses to deal with. It’s a shame they’re no longer a pairing because they would’ve done big damage for the next three years. Minimum.
OLBs Kevin Greene & Greg Lloyd (1993-1995)
Just three seasons out of this pairing but they were pretty incredible years. Greene hogged a fair share of the sacks but Lloyd always found a way to rip the football out (an insane 16 FFs over this span) and was named to two All-Pro teams. Greene’s 35.5 sacks in three years are the second most by any Steeler over that timeframe, trailing only James Harrison’s 36.5.
The birth of “Blitzburgh” and first dominant defense since that Steel Curtain.
SS/FS Glen Edwards & Mike Wagner (1971-1977)
The safety spot was weird for this list just because of the rotation that existed. Wagner and Edwards started it but Donnie Shell could only be held on the sidelines for so long. These two though helped build the foundation of the Steelers’ secondary, combining for 153 starts and 49 interceptions over these seven years. Shell had the best career but don’t forget about these two guys.
OGs Sam Davis & Moon Mullins (1971-1979)
Let’s show the offensive line some love. They may have been on the list had Mullins not shuffled between guard and tackle but wherever they lined up, they paved the way for Franco and Rocky. No Pro Bowls, no All-Pros, no Hall of Fame busts. No need. You knew who made that offense go. Guys like Davis and Mullins.
ILBs Lawrence Timmons & James Farrior (2007-2011)
Timmons caught the end of Farrior’s career but were highly productive in the lineup together. Timmons had the speed. Farrior the power. Farrior made the 2008 Pro Bowl while Timmons was worthy of it basically every year before finally going in 2014.
They could get after the QB too. Timmons had 17 sacks while Farrior actually had more. 21 of them over those five seasons.