The 2003 Pittsburgh Steelers season began with the team trying to improve on their 10–5–1 record from 2002 in which they lost to the Tennessee Titans in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
With the team suffering through injuries as well as less reliance on the running game than normal, the Steelers stumbled to a 6–10 record, going the entire season without winning consecutive games. It is one the team's losing seasons since moving to Heinz Field along with the 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2013 seasons. The team's 6–10 finish matched their worst under Bill Cowher (1999).
In his final season with the team, linebacker Jason Gildon became the franchise's career sack leader during a game against the Arizona Cardinals on November 9.
The team did gain some notoriety during the season. The NFL tried to make it easier on teams after playing a Monday night game by giving every team that was away for a Monday night game either a home game or their bye week the following week. The Steelers were the only team that season to play on the road following a Monday night road game, playing the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 17 before traveling to Cleveland the following week to play against the rivalCleveland Browns on November 23.
While Steelers head coach Bill Cowher was livid at the team playing a road game after a Monday night road game, team president Dan Rooney mentioned that the league putting the Steelers in Cleveland—only 112 miles from Pittsburgh—after flying to the West Coast was somewhat as a compromise to the team.
The Steelers got mixed results from the back-to-back road games on a short week, losing to the 49ers 30–14 in the game the 49ers retired Ronnie Lott's number 42 during halftime, but defeating the Browns 13–6, the latter being the first of the team's twelve-game winning streak against their bitter rivals, which ended in a 2009 game in Cleveland.