Steelers Antonio Brown Not Forgiving Vontaze Burfict or Adam “Pacman” Jones

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 season has been over for several weeks, and one of the few real bits of news to come out during the 2016 off season is that was Art Rooney II’s confirmation that Antonio Brown has cleared NFL concussion protocols.

In a word, Antonio Brown is not in a forgiving mood. In an interview with KDKA FM Brown pulled no punches regarding his feelings about the hit that cost him a chance to play in the Steelers loss to Denver:

Guys don’t want to stop me anymore. They want to take me out. They want to kill me. They want to steal my dreams. They want to ruin me. They want to end me, but we’re not gonna let them. What we are gonna do is win more.

Brown cleared up any confusion over the conflicting reports over whether he had a chance to play. National reporters quickly reported that Brown would miss the game, while Pittsburgh reporters insisted their was a possibility Brown would suit up. As it was, Brown confirmed that he had zero chance of playing.

Brown also confirmed that Adam “Pacman” Jones, who had accused Brown of faking his injury, had apologized to him. Brown did not respond, and questioned why the media gave Adam “Pacman” Jones such a platform.

Cincinnati Bengals the New Jerry Glanville Oilers?

Bad blood in division rivalries is nothing new to the Pittsburgh Steelers in either the AFC North or its processor division, the old AFC Central. In 1976, with Terry Bradshaw already out injured, the Cleveland Browns dumped Mike Kruczek on his head in a late hit and Jack Lambert ran the length of the bench to “Deliver the punishment.” A decade later Chuck Noll would openly call out Houston Oilers coach Jerry Glanville.

  • Glanville’s Oilers were the bad boys of the AFC Central in the late 1980’s, everyone hated them.

Yours truly can remember one interview where a Bengals player admitted that he almost wished injuries on the Glanville’s players, who was reputed to encourage his men to injury to opposition. Former Bengals coach Sam Wyche once went so far as to call an on-sides kick with the Bengals leading 45-0 in the third quarter. The Bengals recovered, and Wyche went for it on fourth down at mid field.

  • With Vontaze Burfict leading the way, the Cincinnati Bengals of this decade appear to be mimicking their former rivals.

Burfict reportedly celebrated after a tackle he made on Le’Veon Bell that ended his season. Video tape suggests that he attempted to injure Ben Roethlisberger. For those of you keeping score, those are three hits which, deliberately or not, injured the top three Steelers offensive starters.

Kudos to Antonio Brown for not forgiving Vontaze Burfict or Adam “Pacman” Jones. Football is a physical game and a violent game, but playing with the intent to injury should never be part of that game.

And Kudos to Antoion Brown for focusing on what’s most important, revenge through victory on the score board, not through cheap shots.

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Chuck Noll vs Jerry Glanville Revisited

Bill Cowher won the affection of Steelers Nation because the fist-pumping, Chin Out, spit in your face coach acted out what every fan felt.

Chuck Noll personified stoicism. Noll neither ranted nor raved, didn’t high five, and rarely raised his voice. His glare, however, could melt iron.

The news of the NFL in mid October 2011 was of course the post-game handshake fracas between Jim (don’t call him John) Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz.

Nice little bit of three-penny theater no doubt, but seriously, is this the best you can do guys?

  • Back in the old AFC Central, head coaches knew how to call one another out.

On December 20th 1987 the Steelers traveled to the Houston Astrodome in a must-win game vs. the Oilers. The Steelers of course lost that day 24-16.

But that’s not what angered Chuck Noll. Oilers head coach Jerry Glanville was new the league, and made little pretension about being one of the league’s bad boys.

Glanville, it was accused, not only encouraged his men to hit hard, but to attempt to injure. After the game, Noll let him know what he thought about it (available as of 5/24/15):

It took a lot to get a rise out of Chuck Noll, but Jerry Glanville did it. It’s hard to know what he said, but one can almost discern “go after your as_.”

The Post-Gazette ran an AP article at the time which reported that Noll said such “tactics “will come back to haunt you. I’m serious.’” The Post-Gazette as reorted that Noll had also apparently issued a challenge via Oilers cornerback Steve Brown to go toe-to-toe with Glanville on the slide lines.

The Chuck Noll vs Jerry Glanville feud would rage on for three more seasons, with Glanville’s Oiler’s delivering some bitter beatings at Three Rivers Stadium in ’88 and ’89, and Noll striking back with stunning upsets in 1988 and of course in the 1989 Steelers Divisional Playoff victory over the Oilers at the Astrodome which cost Glanville his job.

It Harbaugh vs. Schwarts made for good television, no doubt.

But those guys were amateurs.

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Reflections on the Steelers-Ravens Rivalry

Tuesday: Mike Tomlin declares the Steelers-Ravens rivalry to be the “Best in the NFL.”

Wednesday: Ravens All-Star linebacker Ray Lewis reveals that he’s been texting Ben Roethlisberger offering his support.

Contradiction? The way most NFL fans like to imagine things, almost certainly.

A product of changing times? Another possibility, but maybe this has more to do with the collective memory preferences of NFL fans above a certain age.

Division rivalries, it seems, are like memories. They’re real, but instead of being something that you can put your hands on, they’re something to be experienced.

All of which makes them so difficult to define. Here’s a shot at it anyway.

Division Rivalries of Yesteryear

Upon reading Ed Bouchette’s story that Ray Lewis was offering support to Ben Roethlisberger my first thought was, “They don’t make division rivalries like they used to.”

Fans above, say 30, remember an age when things were different, or at least portrayed differently. Yours truly falls into both categories, as Steel Curtain Rising’s tribute to the 1989 Steelers testifies.

A year ago, in writing about the Steelers-Browns rivalry I had this to say:

Division rivalries are not what they used to be.

Certainly the bitterness between Baltimore and Pittsburgh runs deep. But the intensity of the Steelers modern day rivalry with the Ravens arises from the reality these two teams have been the biggest boys on the block in the AFC Central/North for a decade.

In 1989, it was different.

The hatred between the Steelers and the Browns wasn’t so much part of the job description; it was hardwired into the men’s DNA.

And that only scratches the surface. Who can forget the Browns blatant late, out of bounds hit on Mike Kruczek, and Jack Lambert’s furious reprisal?

Ah, those were the days, right?

Division Rivalries at Point-Blank Range

During this week’s chat on PG Plus with Gerry Dulac, Steel Curtain Rising probed the veteran Steeler journalist for his reaction to the apparent contradiction between Tomlin’s pronouncement and Ray Lewis’ support for Ben Roethlisberger.

Dulac’s response was surprising to say the least (apologies for the quality of the screen shot):

On the one-hand, it is hard to argue with someone who has been covering the Steelers since the 70’s. Logic demands that we accept that Gerry Dulac is in a far better position to know than you or I.

Still, part of me longs to resist this latent reality.

After all, isn’t this the same division (under a different name) that saw the normally unflappable Chuck Noll call out Jerry Glanville on the floor of the AstroDome?

Didn’t Sam Wyche once admonish fans in Cincinnati for throwing things on the field by comparing them to Cleveland Browns fans? The same Sam Wyche who a few weeks later ordered an on-sides kick against Glanville’s Oilers while leading 45-0?

Shifting sports, the news about Lewis and Roethlisberger calls to mind an interview with Kevin McHale before his final season with the Celtics, where he lamented, “You know, I liked it when we hated the Lakers… Now everyone has the same agent and hugs and kisses before and after the games.”

Sorry Gerry, but I can’t accept you word. They don’t make division rivalries like they used to….

…Or Do they?

It Was Never As Good As It Was in the Good Old Days

Reminiscing about how good things were in the Good Old Days dates back to Greek Mythology and probably beyond that.

And that brings me back to Gerry Dulac’s final statement.

“Just because you now know that Lewis and Big Ben have been texting, do you think those past games between the teams were any less nasty or violent??”

Free agency might have take a slight edge off of division rivalries overall, and technology has probably weakened the façade that they once presented.

But no one in his right mind would dispute Dulac’s statement about the intensity of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry on the field.

I will not predict what will happen on the scoreboard Sunday at Heinz Field, but I say this with certainty.

  • The hits will be hard. The play will be intense. And the final outcome will likely remain in doubt until the final gun.

In other words, on Sunday afternoon the banks of Pittsburgh’s North Shore will feature the very the essence of a division rivalry.

Just like it did in days long gone bye, and just like it will in days to come.

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Steelers Defeat Titans 19-11, in Tennesse

Regardless of our demise being reported, we expect to win…. We’re a little bit annoyed to be quite honest about our premature reporting of our death.Mike Tomlin

Raise your hands, raise them high where everyone can see them. How many people penciled in a big “L” for today when the schedule was released?

How many people thought, with a 1-8 record in Nashville, and without Roethlisberger, that the Steelers didn’t stand a chance?

Come on, raise those hands, I know I’ve raised mine.

They’d never admit it, but there are probably several people in the Steelers organization who also wrote this one off as an “L,” although there’s no way to be certain.

One thing, however, is certain,

  • Mike Tomlin wasn’t one of them.

Play of the Game

The Steelers set the tone early and decisively by calling a reverse on the opening kick off which rookie Antonio Brown took 83 yards for the game’s only touchdown.

Those seven points proved to be vital down the stretch but, beyond the points, the message implicit was equally important, “We are not conceding this game.”

Once the special teams established the tone, the defense simply dominated.

The Spirit of Shayne Edge Lives On

The Steelers and the Titans used to be Division rivals dating back to the Titan’s days as the Houston Oilers in the old AFC Central.

The animosity between the two teams heated up a notch when the Oilers moved to Tennessee. How do we know?

In their first game after the move to the Volunteer State had been announced, Shayne Edge, the Steelers backup punter, got ejected from the game for fighting – you know things are bitter when your punter gets tossed from the game for mixing it up.

Today’s game lacked nothing for intensity, with the sideline scuffles and hard hits. It was everything a game with the Titans should be.

Defense Delivers, Defense Dominates

So sometimes when people write that we’re not going to be very good or maybe they’ll go 2-2 or 1-3 when Ben out, that’s a lot of the stuff that pisses us off.” – Chris Hoke

Everyone knew that the Steelers would need to lean on their defense and lean on them hard. What no one could be quite sure about, was whether the unit would deliver.

Today we have that answer, and as a result the Roethlisbergerless Steelers are 2-0.

Any adjective attached to Chris Johnson’s name will fail to do him justice. Not only did he run for 2000 plus yards in his sophomore season, he entered today’s game with a 5.3 yards-per-carry average.

Emmit Smith’s was lower at a comparable point in his career, and Johnson’s average even best’s Barry Sanders’ by a hair. The Bus? Not even close.

When you face a player of Johnson’s caliber the old ESPN NFL PrimeTime adage is, “You can’t hope to stop him, you can only hope to contain him.”

  • Don’t tell that to Dick LeBeau’s defense, who stopped Johnson cold.

And they did it missing their starting nose tackle and while rotating in Nick Eason, Ziggy Hood, and Steve McClendon.

The Steel Curtain, 2010 edition played a flawless game, led by Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and Troy Polamalu. This group of players were relentless. Relentless in containing Johnson, relentless in pounding receivers, relentless in tormenting Titans quarterbacks Vince Neil and Kerry Collins.

The scoreboard might show 11 points, but in truth, the Steelers defense pitched a near shutout.

Given that it came so early in the season, against a team of undefined quality, it may never get recognized as such, but this may have very well been one of the finest defensive performances in franchise history.

Offense, Half Full or Half Empty?

Man, I don’t know who we had in there for a spell there.” – Mike Tomlin on the injuries to the offensive line.

When your defense causes 7 turnovers, you have the right to expect your team to score 30 or more points. Instead, the Steelers offense put up 12, all off of Jeff Reed’s foot.

The numbers behind those points look even more grim, as the Steelers:

  • Went 2-15 on third downs (that’s 13%),
  • Gave up 4 sacks,
  • averaged a collective 2.65 yards a carry when you take out Dennis Dixon’s 21 yards scramble

Steelers Nation should not ignore the warning signs implicit in these stats, but nor should they be taken with undue alarm.

Mendenhall ground out 23 carries and earned a respectable 3.0 yard average against a very tough front seven that knew the Steelers were going to run the ball.

Charlie Batch might have only gone 5 for 11, but he has seen little time with the first unit, and was playing, at times, with 3rd and 4th string tackles Tony Hills and Jonathan Scott. And while their play left a lot to be desired, Tony Hills has made tremendous strides, and could have done worse in his first real NFL action.

Above all, the offense avoided any costly mistakes.

The offense is going to need to do more in the future, but against the Titans it was enough to carry the day.

It is good to be 2-0.

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1989 Steelers Squash Patriots, 28-10

In the late 1980’s “Dave the Predictor” of the “Harris in the Morning” show on Washington’s WCXR offered “Office Pool Picks” every Friday morning. With the internet years away and the Steelers getting little national coverage, I listened intently to the picks, hoping to gleam a shred of insight into the Steelers fortunes for the coming Sunday.

  • Although I fondly remember “Dave the Predictor,” up until that point he had gone the entire 1989 season without picking the Steelers once.

And despite the fact that the Steelers were 7-7 and the Patriots were 4-10, “Dave the Predictor” still picked New England over Pittsburgh.

WCXR’s signal certainly did not reach from the Washington area to Pittsburgh, but perhaps a fair number of Pittsburghers shared in the skepticism, as only 26,594 people braved the -12 wind chill, making it the Steelers smallest crowd on record at Three Rivers Stadium.

Banner Day for the Steelers Offense

What a shame that so few turned out, because this was the first in a series of contests between the Steelers and Patriots that marked either important milestones or turning points for the men in Black and Gold (to read more about Steelers-Patriots history, click here.)

In this case, it was the the game where the Steelers offense, much maligned through out the NFL during 1989, came alive.

Tim Worley had his second 100 yard game and scored a touchdown. Merril Hoge was close behind, adding 63 yards, and two touchdowns. Louis Lipps added 58 more and another touchdown on a 58 yard reverse.

Bubby Brister only managed 165 yards passing that day on 16 attempts, but Brister made each pass count. Hitting Mike Mularkey twice four 40 yards, and rookies Derrick Hill once for 33 yards and Mark stock another time for 23 yards.

The Steelers defense relentlessly hammered the New England Patriots as Tim Johnson, David Little, and Aaron Jones each sacked Marc Wilson. Cornerbacks Dwayne Woodruff and rookie David Johnson each nabbed interceptions.

The Steelers in fact kept New England out of the end zone until giving up a garbage yard touchdown in the game’s final two minutes.

  • It was the Steelers best day offensively, and it was also the day that the team perked its record above .500 for the first time.

That was good, but they were still last in the AFC Central, as Bud Carson’s Cleveland Browns defeated the Minnesota Vikings to improve their record to 8-6-1. Cincinnati trounced the Houston Oilers 61-7, improving their record to 8-7, but the Oilers retained a 9-6 division lead.

Thanks for visiting. To read Steel Curtain Rising’s entire tribute to the 1989 Steelers, click here and scroll down.

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Oilers Get 4th Timeout, Beat ’89 Steelers 23-16

This was the one everyone had waited for. When Chuck Noll dedicated the Steelers to securing a playoff spot when they were 4-6, there was no question which of Pittsburgh’s remaining six games was the biggest.

It was their December 3rd match up with the Houston Oilers.

Chuck Noll and Jerry Glanville

If it is safe to say that in 1989 rivalry between the Steelers and Browns ran deeper and still held the most intensity, it is also safe to say that the passion on the surface for the rivalry with the Oilers was hotter.

Jerry Glanville, with his showboat tactics and overt encouragement of dirty play was the antithesis of Chuck Noll. Noll and Bud Carson might have had their differences, and you can sure bet that Carson enjoyed the post-game hand sake after defeating his former mentor 51-0 in the season opener. But Noll and Carson certainly respected one another.

Houston so thoroughly thrashed the Steelers in week 7, that the 27-0 score betrayed the lopsidedness of the contest.

In week 12, the Steelers were 6-6 and the Oilers 7-5 clinging to a narrow lead in the division. A win would knock Houston down a peg, and give Steelers another divisional win to help with those all-important tie breakers.

It was time for Pittsburgh to show the NFL they were for real.

Steelers Start Strong, But Oilers Finish on Top, with Help

And the Steelers began the game doing just that, jumping to a 10 point lead on the strength of a Gary Anderson field goal, and a Merrill Hoge touchdown.

But Houston fought back, they scored two touchdowns late in the first half, although on the latter touchdown drive an official’s error awarded Houston an extra time out.

The Steelers marched the length of the field twice in the second half, but both times were forced to settle for Gary Anderson field goals, although the latter one tied the score, late in the fourth quarter.

  • But Houston struck back, marching 80 yards to score a touchdown with 21 seconds remaining to give them the lead with 21 seconds left to go.

Houston of course would hold on to that lead, and improve their record to 8-5 while the Steelers, with three games left, were knocked back into the losing side of .500.

At 6-7 sitting in last place in the AFC Central the odds of the Steelers making the playoffs were discouraging.

But the men in Black and Gold remained undaunted.

To read the entire series on the 1989 Steelers, click here (and remember to scroll down.)

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A Video Tribute to the Old AFC Central

Steel Curtain Rising is pleased to share with youa tribute to the old AFC Central.

It aired 20 years ago today, on the occasion of the 1989 Steelers second regular season game against the rival Houston Oilers.

Narrated by the legendary Pete Axethelm, one of the men who helped put ESPN’s NFL GameDay on the map prior to his untimely death in the early 1990’s.

So sit back and take two and a half minutes to revel and reminisce about the days when division rivalries didn’t simply represent rallying points for the fans, but real blood vendetta’s for the players.

No wonder Tunch Ilkin found his way to broadcasting. Is there any better way to describe Jerry Glanville than as a “water moccasin?”

We think not.

To read Steel Curtain Rising’s entire tribute to the 1989 Steelers, click here.

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Retrospective on The Steelers 1989 Season – An Introduction

As regular readers know, Steel Curtain Rising is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Steelers 1989 season.

Our first article detailing the Steelers 1989 draft ran in July. We followed in August, with another article which provided the backdrop to the 1989 season.

Judging by the number of Google hits and the number of reader comments, this is going to be a popular series, and Steel Curtain Rising is excited to bring it to you.

Why the Steelers 1989 Season?

Steelers Nation is fortunate to follow a team with a very simple definition of success: Did Pittsburgh win a Super Bowl? Yes = a successful season. No = No.

Given that, might be odd to celebrate a season that ended with a loss in the divisional playoffs?

Perhaps so.

Much about that the Steelers 1989 season defied normal. After all:

  • The Steelers 1989 draft class made a tremendous impact…

…only to fade quickly in later seasons, save for a few gems.

  • Opposing teams out gained the 1989 Steelers for 10 straight weeks…

…yet the Steelers went 4-5 during that stretch.

  • The Steelers offense was shut out 3 times during the season…

…on three other occasions, the Steelers offense brought the team from behind.

  • They started out losing to the Browns and Bengals by a score of 92-10…

…those same Steelers finished a dropped pass away from the AFC Championship game.

An Incredible Story

How were they able to do it? No one knows for sure, but look deeper and you’ll see a story of men, players and coaches who believed in one another and believed in themselves, and who always refused to say “Quit.”

  • Ultimately, it is a testament to the coaching genius of the Emperor, one Charles Henry Noll.

That’s an incredible story. And one that does not always get its due. When Chuck Noll retired in 1991, if memory serves, only one Pittsburgh columnist (Gene Collier I think) gave 1989 season significant attention.

The brief bio on Chuck Noll that followed the NFL Films 1992 Steelers highlight film only devoted a sentence to the 1989 season.

And, if memory serves, the Post-Gazette’s Steelers 75 Year Anniversary series didn’t do a full-length article on it either.

Steel Curtain Rising is Happy to Fill the Void

On the Thursday of each week, Steel Curtain Rising will post an article telling the story of the game that was played on that day 20 years ago. (This week we’ll run the article on Wednesday, in deference to the Steelers home opener.)

Player profiles and other goodies will come as time allows.

Along the way you’ll be able to follow the entire series by clicking on the Steelers 1989 season tag. And of course, Steel Curtain Rising invites you to share your memories and insights from that season.

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History of Steelers Titans Rivalry

The Steelers Titans rivalry may never have read the level of intensity of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry and might not have the historic roots of the Steelers-Browns rivalry or the Steelers-Raiders rivalry, but bad blood festered between the two teams during the final years of the AFC Central.

  • And regardless of the division, games against the Titans are always hard hitting affairs.

You could fill a small book with anecdotes from Steelers-Oilers rivalry; suffice to say, Bud Adam’s decision to move his team to Tennessee only intensified the tension between these the tension between these two teams.

  • While the Steelers may lead the series 41 to 29, the naked truth is that the Titans have dominated since arriving in the Volunteer State, to the tune of 12-7.

This once and future rivalry has created some glory, but a lot more pain for the Steelers. Click below to relive any one of  these key moments in the Steelers Titans rivalry, or scroll down to read them all.

1996 Oilers at Pittsburgh – The Punter Mixes it Up

This was the last time the Houston Oilers visited Three Rivers Stadium and the contest was billed by then NBC studio commentator Joe Gibbs as the game that was to preface the changing of the guard in the AFC Central. The teams played as if division supremacy was indeed at stake. Steelers win, 30-16.

  • Substitute punter Shayne Edge gets throw out of the game for fighting – you know there is bad blood when your punter gets ejected.

1997 Titans at Pittsburgh – Tennessee’s First Visit to Three Rivers Stadium

This was Tennessee’s first trip to Three Rivers, although as the “Tennessee Oilers” Steelers win 37-24.

  • Greg Lloyd makes his first splash play of the 1997 season, with a long fumble return.

1997 Steelers Close Season at Tennessee – Bettis Puts Team First

This was a meaningless game, as the Steelers had all but locked up the AFC Central crown. The Steelers lose 16-6.

  • With 1,665 yards rushing Jerome Bettis could have easily taken a shot at Barry Foster’s single season Steelers rushing record of 1,690. The Bus instead puts prudence over pride and decides to rest for the game.

1998 Titans at Pittsburgh – Is the Giant is Slipping….?

The Steelers bring a 5-2 record into this game, fresh off an impressive 20-13 win over Kansas City on Monday Night Football. But the Steelers performance has been inconsistent thus far, as Kordell Stewart looks lost under center, and all but refuses to throw the long ball. The Steelers come out sleep walking, and Eddie George shreds the Steelers run defense. Tennessee wins 41-31.

  • Kordell Stewart flaunts his immaturity, claiming that he played a good game, his three interceptions not withstanding.

1998 Steelers at Tennessee – …Yes the Giant has Slipped

For all intents and purposes, this game comes down to a missed field goal by replacement kicker Matt George that would have put the Steelers within six to win. But the simple fact is that the Steelers did not get it done. Tennessee wins 23-14.

  • The Steelers almost always found a way to win the close ones under Bill Cowher. Although the Steelers rebound to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars in the succeeding week, the fact is that the losses to the Tennessee signal that the Steelers are no longer contenders.

1999 Steelers at Tennessee – Mayhem in the Secondary

Titans win 16-10. The four point difference in this game should fool no one. If you want to know how this game went consider this:

  • Safeties Scott Shields and Travis Davis have a Tennessee receiver (Chris Sanders?) in double coverage deep downfield. Both of them either have a chance to make a play on the ball or land a hellacious hit. Neither player does either. Instead, they more or less freeze as Sanders gets a 46 yard reception to set up a score.

1999 Titans at Pittsburgh – Steelers Become a Side Show

This game was actually played on January 2nd, 2000. If the Steelers had looked lackluster since losing to the expansion Browns at mid-season, they play a spirited game. And that is the problem. The team is horrendously undisciplined and unsettlingly soft at the core. Consider:

  • Bobby Shaw catches a garbage time touchdown and celebrates by lifting his jersey to show off a Superman shirt.
  • Levon Kirkland, all 280 plus pounds of him, intercepts a Neil O’Donnell pass inside the 20, and lets the former Steelers quarterback muscle him out of bounds.

2000 Titans at Pittsburgh – From Glee to Grief in Two or Three Throws

The Steelers have started the 2000 0-2 getting defeated by the to-be champion Baltimore Ravens and upset by the Browns in Cleveland. They have been left for dead by most of the NFL, and many in the Pittsburgh media have started a deathwatch vigil on Bill Cowher’s job. Tennessee arrives for this final game at Three Rivers stadium as defending AFC Champions, and the Steelers fight tooth and nail, only to be heart broken, 20-23

  • Steelers Nation rejoices as Jason Gildon slams Neil O’Donnell to the turf, drawing blood…
  • …Celebration turns to agony when O’Donnell’s injury brings Steve McNair onto the field. McNair only needs only five throws to take the Titans to the end zone and put them on top for good.

2000 Steelers at Tennessee – The Virtue of Disappointment

After losing in the final moment of week three to the Titans, the Steelers show their tenacity in that game, loss notwithstanding, was no fluke. They arrive in Nashville with a five game winning streak only to lose 9 to 7.

  • Bill Cowher states that after the game his team is more disappointed than it was during previous losses – and this is a good thing, because it reveals that the Steelers are once again accustomed to winning.

2001 Titans at Pittsburgh – A Corner of Steelers Nation Goes Global

Plaxico Burress, of modern day “shoot thyself with an unlicensed hand gun in a night club” fame has done everything thing possible to earn the “bust” label that has followed him since he was drafted… Until today. Burress has a breakout game as the Steelers win 34-7.

  • Most will either remember the game as the day Dennis Miller got the key to the city of Pittsburgh, or the first Monday Night Football game at Heniz Field. But it marks another milestone. It is the first game that yours truly watches the Steelers from Buenos Aires. An ESPNDeportes tape delay means that game is shown at 2:00 am locally, but we dutifully rise to watch and the Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club of Buenos Aires is born!

2002 Steelers at Tennessee – Tommy Gun Caught in the Crossfire

Tommy Maddox, of XFL Fame, has come off the bench to rescue a season that appeared doomed after the Steelers opened the season with to back losses to the Patriots and Radiers.

In fact, Maddox takes the league by storm lighting up opposing offenses, to the point where commentators begin to suggest that perhaps the Steelers are scoring too quickly with him under center. Unfortunately, Maddox takes a vicious hit that leaves him momentarily paralyzed on the field. Titans win in 31-23.

  • Although Maddox is not permanently injured, and does return to lead the Steelers to the playoffs, he is never quite the same.
  • Also, coming off the bench, Kordell Stewart almost brings the team back. In fact, he’ll play his best two games as a professional in relief of Maddox.

2002 playoffs, Steelers at Tennessee – And the Oscar Goes to…. Joe Nedely

The Steelers fall behind early, but claw their way back in a pure dog fight that sees James Farrior land straight on his head, and Hines Ward throw a two point conversion pass. The game goes into overtime as the Titans win, 34-31.

  • The Steelers make a clean block attempt on Joe Needley as he misses his first attempt at a game winning field goal. Needley takes soccer player like dive, drawing a penalty. Given a second chance, he makes it sealing the game for Tennessee.

2003 Titans at Pittsburgh – Its Going to Be a Long Season….

The Steelers jump out to an early 10-0 lead, only to implode on two Tommy Maddox interceptions, a safety, and a blocked field goal, as the Titans win 30-13.

  • The combination of poor pass protection and poor decision making by Maddox is to become one of the common threads in what will ultimately become a 5 game losing streak for the Steelers.

2005 Titans at Pittsburgh – The Bus Begins its Final Rounds

The Steelers open the season by dominating the Titans 34 to 7. Bill Cowher had concluded the preseason by admonishing that “the passing game isn’t where it needs to be,” but Ben Roethlisberger completes 9 of 11 for 218 yards and two touchdowns. Willie Parker also runs for 162 yards.

  • While the road would get far rockier further on, this will always be remembered as the Steelers first victory on the Bus’ final stop at the Lombardi Trophy presentation at Super Bowl XL.

2008 at Tennessee — The Titans Continue to Torrment

Entering the game the Titans appeared to be a team on the decline, while the Steelers appeared to be a team on the rise. All of the pundits were picking Pittsbrugh.

  • They should have known better.

The Steelers defense has spentthe 2008 season stuffing opposing offenses, and humbling Pro Bowl quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Philip Rivers. Even in victory Peyton and Eli Manaings have looked like mere mortals in front of the Steelers defense…

…So it would only go to figure that the Titan’s would be the first defense to net more than 300 yards and journeyman Kerry Collins would be the first quaterback to finish a game with a passer rating over 100.

Credit the Titans for play a well hard fought and well executed game. They deserved to win.

But its also true that the Steelers simply left a lot of plays out on the field, on both offense, defense and special teams.

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