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Top Ten Steelers Tandems Of All-Time: Lynn Chandnois & Ray Mathews (#7)

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.

#7: RB/RET Lynn Chandnois & Ray Mathews (1951-1956)

Going off the beaten path a bit for this one. But a duo forgotten to history, ending two years before the the ’58 Title game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants put football on the map and an era where the Steelers, in a good year, floated around .500.

But for that time, they were one of the game’s most dynamic tandems. Carry the ball? Yup, especially in the early 50s when the Steelers were the lost to switch from the old-school single wing to more modern T-formation. Catch it? Can do. Returns? Chandnois was the force on kicks, Mathews on punts.

Over that span, here are their totals.

Chandnois: 522 carries for 1718 yards (3.3 YPC) 16 TDs, 155 receptions for 1854 yards (12 YPC), 7 TDs, 29.6 KR average, 3 TDs

Mathews: 292 carries for 1030 yards (3.5 YPC) 5 TDs, 177 receptions for 2843 yards (16.1 YPC) 26 TDs, 12.9 PR average, 3 TDs

Triple threats. Both of them.

Despite being a lowly 5-7 team, both players made the 1952 Pro Bowl. Since 1965, here are the running back duos to be able to make that claim.

Paul Lowe/Keith Lincoln: 1965 (Chargers)
Mercury Morris/ Larry Csonka: 1971 & 1972 (Dolphins)
Jim Otis/Terry Metcalf: 1975 (Cardinals)
Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram: 2017 (Saints)

It’s the only time the Steelers have had two backs make the Pro Bowl, too.

Ok, I know that back in’52, there just weren’t a lot of teams. But the Steelers were bad and having those two guys provided some excitement for the fanbase.

Highlights are obviously scarce but here’s a snippet of them. Great concentration and body control by this catch from Chandnois in 1950.

He also famously returned a kick for a TD against the Giants in 1952, had it called back for holding, then ran the re-kick for a touchdown that stood.

Here’s Mathews returning this punt for a touchdown in that Pro Bowl ’52 campaign.

Chandnois’ football career ended too quickly when head coach Buddy Parker in a fit of anger cut him on the spot before the ’57 season. He would later admit he regretted that decision, a duh statement if there ever was one. Mathews would be slowly phased out of the offense but lasted until 1959 before spending a final year in Dallas, named captain for the first game in Cowboys’ history.

To this day, Chandnois remains the best returner in Steelers’ history and remains third in NFL history in kick return average, trailing only the legendary Gale Sayers and Cordarrelle Patterson. Of Steeler players with at least 50 career punt returns, Mathews is second in franchise history, narrowly behind Bill “Bullet” Dudley from the 40s.

Chandnois and Mathews were never going to be Hall of Famers but if you ask me, both eventually deserve places in the franchise’s Hall of Honor.

Top Ten Tandems

#10: DTs Ernie Stautner & Big Daddy Lipscomb (1961-1962)
#9: OGs Ramon Foster & David DeCastro (2012-Present)
#8: CBs Mel Blount & JT Thomas (1973-1981)
#7: RB/RET Lynn Chandnois & Ray Mathews (1951-1956)

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