Can you name the Steelers’ top 10 all-time receivers?

Steel City Underground takes fans back in time to feature events, special moments, and historical times and players in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit these moments in our “Steelers Throwback Thursday” series.

Thursdays are a favorite day at Steel City Underground as we hunt through historical moments in time that involve the Pittsburgh Steelers. As fans first, we try to find things we feel other fans should know about (if you’re going to call yourself a die-hard member of Steelers Nation) or learn about for the first time. This week, we decided to find out just how many fans can get the names of the top-10 all-time receivers for the Steelers correct, and if they can get them in order. So, before you scroll down to look at the list, take a guess and see if you surprise yourself. Let us know in the comments if you were able to guess correctly or if you were surprised by some. Hey, no cheating!

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Hines Ward (No. 1 spot)

We decided to go with the guy with the top spot right off the bat. We figured, of all Steelers, the majority of fans would know who topped the list. Ward started his career in Pittsburgh and ended it there (1998-2011). In 217 games, Ward caught 1,000 passes (64.2 percent catch average) for 12,083 yards.

During his career in black and gold, Ward averaged 12.1 yards per reception on his way to 85 touchdowns; that included a 7.8 receptions average per target with a 4.6-yard-per-reception average. His longest reception went for the same number as touchdowns he scored: 85. Just think what it might have been like if No. 86 had made one more touchdown and gone one more yard on that deep catch! Ward averaged 55.7 receiving yards per game.

That Ward was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t lost on Steelers fans who already know he was one of the best in the game.

To keep this interesting, we’re going to see if you can guess the order of the remaining guys on the list. So, keep reading to see if you guessed correctly.

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John Stallworth

Something that Stallworth (1974-1987) had in common with Ward was the fact that he, too, was a Super Bowl champion. He’s also a Hall of Famer. Stallworth had the play of the game in Super Bowl XIV. He was known for making spectacular catches. In 165 games with the Steelers, Stallworth had 537 receptions for 8,723 yards (16.2 yards per reception) and 63 touchdowns. His longest catch went for 74 yards. Although he averaged just 3.3 receptions per game, he also averaged 52.9 yards per game. Stallworth comes in on the top 10 ranked as No. 3.

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Louis Lipps

Yet another Super Bowl champion, Lipps (1984-1991) was a spectacular and athletic receiver. In 108 games in the black and gold, Lipps recorded 358 receptions for 6,018 yards (16.8 yards per reception average) and 39 touchdowns. Like Stallworth, Lipps recorded an average of 3.3 receptions per game, but he averaged 55.7 yards per game. Stallworth ranks No. 5 on the top 10 list.

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Lynn Swann

Add another Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer (the Steelers seem to do well with receivers, overall, don’t they) in Swann (1974-1982). Swann is oft remembered for some great catches involving him laying his body out to make a successful reception. In 116 games, Swann caught 336 passes for 5,462 yards (16.3 yards per reception average) and scored 51 touchdowns. He averaged just 2.9 receptions per game but averaged 47.1 yards per game. His longest catch went for 68 yards. Swann came in at No. 6 on the top 10 list.

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Heath Miller

Wait just a minute! A tight end made the list? Possibly the best tight end to ever don the black and gold, Miller (2005-15) played in 168 games for the Steelers. During that time, he caught 825 passes for 6,569 yards (71.8 reception success average) and scored 45 touchdowns. His longest catch went for 87 yards. Miller averaged 8.0 yards per reception and 39.1 yards per game. Miller ranks as No. 4 on the top 10 list.

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Diontae Johnson

One of the best route-runners currently active in the NFL, Johnson moved on to the Carolina Panthers during free agency early in 2024. While he was with the Steelers (2019-23), the small but feisty receiver played in 77 games and made 391 receptions for 4,363 yards (11.2 yards per reception average) and 25 touchdowns. Despite a decline in his final two seasons in Pittsburgh under offensive coordinator Matt Canada, Johnson still managed a catch percentage of 61.2. His longest reception went for 71 yards. He averaged 5.1 receptions per game and 56.7 yards receiving per game. Johnson entered the top 10 list at No. 9.

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Antonio Brown

Despite the dramatics and antics, Brown (2010-18) was one of the more flashy receivers the Steelers have ever fielded. When Brown was “on,” he lit the field on fire. In 130 games, Brown recorded 837 receptions for 11,207 yards (13.4 yards per reception average) and 74 touchdowns. He averaged 8.8 yards per reception, 6.4 catches per game, and 86.2 yards per game. His longest reception went for 74 yards. Ranked No. 2 among the top 10 list, Brown had the best yards-per-target average and yards-per-game average than any other player on the list.

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Plaxico Burress

The first-round selection for Pittsburgh in the 2000 NFL Draft, Burress (2000-12) had his ups and downs on and off the field but in 75 games he made 264 receptions for 4,206 yards and 23 touchdowns. Burress averaged 15.9 yards per reception, 8.1 yards per target, and 56.1 yards per game. He ranked No. 10 in the top 10 list.

The final two players on the list were both listed on rosters as ‘ends’… specifically RE and SE. 

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Elbie Nickel

Nickel (listed as the RE, 1947-57) played in 131 games and caught 329 passes for 5,131 yards and 37 touchdowns in an NFL that favored running more highly. His longest reception went for 77 yards. He finished at No. 7 on the list.

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Buddy Dial

Buddy Dial (listed as SE, 1959-63) played in just 66 games for the Steelers. He caught 219 passes for 4,723 yards and 42 touchdowns. Out of all the players on the top 10 list, Dial had the highest yards-per-reception average at 21.6. His longest reception went for a staggering 88 yards. He averaged 71.6 receiving yards per game and ranks No. 8 on the list. Dial (and Nickel) both remain in the NFL Top 25 leaderboard in single-season yards-per-reception records.

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