Coming off a trip to the AFC Championship game in 2001, the Pittsburgh Steelers had even higher expectations entering the 2002 season. But this team that had its sights set on the Super Bowl fell into an early hole when it began 2002 with two straight losses. However the Steelers regrouped to capture the AFC North championship, and found the unlikeliest hero along the way.
Quarterback Tommy Maddox, who was out of football for several years and bounced around two other pro leagues, came off the bench in Week 4 to lead the Steelers to a critical overtime with over the Browns, Maddox won the starter's ob, and the Steelers' offense was never the same. Behind their new quarterback, Pittsburgh passed for more yards than ever before, as receivers Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward each topped 1,300 yards receiving. Ward earned a Pro Bowl berth with a team-record 112 catches and 12 touchdowns. On defense, Pro bowl linebacker Joe Porter parked a unit that led the AFC in sacks for the second straight season.
The Steelers clinched the division crown with a late-season upset win in Tampa Bay, and continued to show their resolve in the post-season, with a incredible comeback win over the Browns in the wild card playoffs, In the end, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not fulfill their dreams of a Super Bowl, but in a season of remarkable resilience, no on e could deny this team possessed the Heart of a Champion.