(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Pro Football Network recently ranked their top 11 receiver corps of all-time, and an underrated Steelers receiving core made the list at No. 11. It was the Steelers' 2002 receiver corps -- a group that featured a trio of Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and Antwaan Randle El.
The Steelers were notorious for being a run-first team under Bill Cowher up until the 2002 season. Career journeyman Tommy Maddox replaced Kordell Stewart in the fourth quarter in Week 4 of the 2002 season against the Browns and led the Steelers to complete a 16-13 comeback victory in overtime. Maddox never looked back after Week 4 and was named Comeback Player of the Year. The Steelers also became a pass-heavy team that often displayed three wide receivers on the field.
"With a duo of Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress, the Steelers had one of the most formidable one-two punches in the NFL for a short period," Dalton Miller of Pro Football Network wrote. "Their contribution alone garners discussion. After all, they combined for over 2,600 yards between them and accounted for 19 touchdowns. However, they also had the versatility of Antwaan Randle El.
"Randle El only had 489 yards receiving, but his presence and efficiency helped the offense hum. Thus, star power and top-end performance propelled the 2002 Steelers over the 2006 Bengals’ squad."
Ward had a career-best season in receptions (112), receiving yards (1,329) and touchdown receptions (12) in 2002. Likewise for Burress when it came to receptions (78) and receiving yards (1,325).
The top three receiving corps in Pro Football Network's were the 1998 Vikings at No. 3, 2004 Colts at No. 2 and 2000 Rams at No. 1.