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2006 Steelers 28 vs Dolphins 17 TNF
Joey Porter kisses Bill Cowher (you heard me!) in the season opener. Charlie Batch gets the start after Big Ben, who recovered remarkably quickly from his summer motorcycle crash, is sidelined by an emergency appendectomy. Trailing 14-17 midway through the 4th, the Steelers put the game away on two gigantic plays. The first comes on a perfectly executed corner route to a WIDE open Heath Miller, who rumbles 87 yds for the go-ahead TD, falling into the end zone after being tripped up inside the 5. Replay shows that Miller was actually out of bounds just shy of the goal line, but Nick Saban's challenge flag fails to catch the attention of the officials before the Steelers kick the PAT, so the TD stands. Miami still has time, but Daunte Culpepper throws INTs on consecutive drives, the first to Troy Polamalu, and the second to Joey Porter, who scores on a 42-yd pick 6. Porter is so excited that he runs to the sideline and kisses Bill Cowher on the cheek, reminiscent of the kiss Cowher planted on Kordell Stewart during a 1997 win over Baltimore. Footage includes pregame, commercials, halftime show and 40 minutes of postgame.
2006 Steelers 24 at Browns 20
Ben Roethlisberger throws for 229 yds and 2 TDs in the 4th quarter alone, jamming 21 points into the final period to overcome 3 first half INTs (all on tipped balls, including a pick 6) and rallying the Steelers from a 10-point deficit, sealing the win with an improvisational 4-yd TD shovel pass to Willie Parker with just 32 seconds left.
This exciting game also features an excellent performance by rookie WR Santonio Holmes, who after dropping his first pass, delivers a clutch performance, keyed by a pivotal 21-yd catch on 3rd and 20 and followed with the first TD catch his career. Holmes' TD comes on another great improvisational throw by Ben, who on 3rd and 6 avoids pressure, scrambles right, sheds a would-be tackler and then fires deep, across his body, to a wide open Holmes, who skips into the end zone for the first of Pittsburgh's three 4th quarter TDs. Probably my favorite game of the difficult 2006 season.
2006 Steelers 0 at Ravens 27
The Ravens sack Big Ben 9 times for 73 yds, including a vicious shot delivered by Bart Scott in the 2nd quarter. Scott comes untouched from the left side and nails Roethlisberger in the chest, driving him into the turf where he lays for several minutes before walking off the field on his own. Amazingly, Ben misses only one play, but he is harassed for the rest of the afternoon as the Steelers' slim playoff hopes go up in smoke. Pittsburgh musters only 21 yds rushing, turns the ball over 3 times and doesn't manage to cross midfield until the 3rd quarter. When the Steelers finally do make their way into Ravens' territory, Roethlisberger gets blindsided and the Ravens scoop up his fumble and return it 57 yds for a TD as the Steelers suffer their worst defeat in nearly a decade.
2006 Steelers 27 vs Browns 7 TNF
In a game I attended on a cold, snowy, windy, nasty Thursday night in Pittsburgh, Willie Parker runs wild for a team-record 223 yds on 32 carries, besting Frenchy Fuqua's previous mark of 218 yds and needing just north of 3 quarters to do it. The Steelers out-rush the Browns 303-18 and Big Ben throws for 225 including a 49-yd bomb to Nate Washington to open the scoring on the way to 528 yds of offense. Cleveland never knew what hit 'em. Video includes the halftime show and about 30 minutes of postgame material.
2006 Steelers 7 vs Ravens 31
In Bill Cowher's last home game, Steve McNair throws 3 TD passes to sweep the Steelers, earn a division crown and officially nail Pittsburgh's playoff coffin shut. While Big Ben struggles (15 of 31, 156 yds passing, 1 TD, 2 INT, 5 sacks), Steve McNair (21 of 31, 256 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT) repeatedly takes advantage of good field position provided by Pittsburgh turnovers and poor Chris Gardoki punts. The Ravens don't pile up a ton of rushing yards (103 yds on 33 carries), but they dominate time of possession 35:22 to 24:38 and allow the Steelers to convert just 2 of 14 third downs (both via penalties). A truly miserable loss.
2006 Steelers 23 at Bengals 17 OT
Santonio Holmes 67-yd TD catch-and-run in overtime ends the Bengals season (no playoffs for you!) and sends Coach Cowher out on a high note in his final game as head coach of the Steelers. The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers are already eliminated from playoff contention coming into the game, but the Bengals were still in position to clinch a Wild Card berth with a win. Instead, the Steelers play spoiler as the Bungles miss a 39-yd FG attempt with 8 seconds left in regulation and Big Ben needs just 3 plays in overtime to hit Holmes in stride on a slant. Santonio does the rest, eluding multiple defenders as he sprints down the sideline and finally dives the final few yards into the end zone for the 67-yd game winner.