Greg Lloyd, Bill Cowher and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers made a statement midway through the 1992 regular season.
Cowher, in his first season as Pittsburgh’s head coach, coached against his former mentor, then Chiefs’ head coach Marty Schottenheimer, in Week 8 of the regular season. Led by a dominate defensive effort spearhead by Pro Bowl linebacker Greg Lloyd, Cowher’s Steelers overwhelmed Schottenheimer’s Chiefs 27-3 on Sunday Night Football.
The ’92 Steelers was a special one for Pittsburgh and Cowher, who won his only NFL Coach of the Year award that season. After the Steelers stumbled to a 7-9 record the previous season, the ’92 Steelers went 11-5 while winning the team’s first division title since 1984. It was the first of six consecutive postseason appearances for Cowher’s Steelers, who would also win five AFC Central division titles during that span.
One of the team’s best players during that era was Lloyd, a sixth round pick in the 1988 NFL Draft. After seeing limited time as a rookie, Lloyd became a full-time starter in 1989, recording 7.0 sacks and three forced fumbles that season while helping the Steelers win their first playoff game in five years. After another solid season in 1990, Lloyd further elevated his game in 1991, earning his first of five consecutive Pro Bowl selections that season while becoming the most intimating player in football.
While he was especially good at getting to opposing quarterbacks, Lloyd’s versatility is what truly made him special. In 1992, Lloyd complemented his 96 tackles with 6.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and an interception. In 1993, his earned his first of three consecutive All-Pro selections after racking up 111 tackles go to with 6.0 sacks, five forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in 15 regular season games.
Lloyd was even better in 1994. Along with leading the newly formed Blitzburgh Defense, Lloyd recorded a career high 10.0 sacks that season while leading the NFL with five forced fumbles. The following season, Lloyd finished second for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award after totaling 116 tackles, 6.5 sacks, three interceptions and an NFL high six forced fumbles. Lloyd’s play that season helped the Steelers capture their first AFC title since 1979.
With his career seeming destined for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Lloyd suffered a career-altering injury in Week 1 of the 1996 season. While he would return to play two more NFL seasons, Lloyd was not the same player that he was prior to his major injury. He retired with little fanfare during the 1999 offseason following one season in Carolina.
While the end of his career was unfortunate, the nine healthy seasons that Lloyd had pre-injury were some of the best individual seasons in franchise history. When the topic of all-time Steelers linebackers is discussed, Lloyd’s name is always in the conversation.