Top Ten Steelers Tandems Of All-Time: Mel Blount & JT Thomas (#8)

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.

#8: CBs Mel Blount & JT Thomas (1973-1981)

Blount is undoubtedly a Hall of Famer and probably the best cornerback in team history. He only comes in a little lower on this list because the lack of a super strong #2 across from him. But Thomas was his strongest counterpart, pairing him with at corner from 1974 to 1977 before flipping back to safety for the remainder of his Steelers’ career.

It’s Blount who obviously carries the group here but Thomas took advantage of the times teams smartly threw away from #47. From ’74 to ’77, Thomas picked off 12 passes, including five in ’74 alone, and made the ’76 Pro Bowl as part of the greatest defense of the Steel Curtain era. Here’s an interception from the 74 season.

Blount needs little introduction. He dominated like few in the NFL did, forcing the league to change its coverage rules and creating the five yard chuck, outlawing conduct beyond that point. Blount was still a top corner and in 1975, went off for one of the best seasons a Steelers’ defensive back has ever had, leading the league with 11 interceptions. Since the merger, he’s still the only Pittsburgh corner to have double-digit picks, a mark that will probably stand for another couple decades.

This is one of his 57 picks as a Steeler, a mark that remains a record, a pick six thanks to a convoy of teammates against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Had Thomas been a slightly better player or if they had played at opposite corner spots for a little while longer instead of moving to safety, they would’ve been at least a notch higher on the list. Still, we’re talking about Mel freakin’ Blount which alone is good enough to get on here.

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)

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