2001 Steelers 20 vs Lions 7 Preseason
The first-ever game at Heinz Field! Pittsburgh opens their brand-spanking-new stadium by shutting out Detroit until the final seconds of the game behind strong performances from Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox. Stewart hits 12 of 15 for 135 yds and leads a beautiful 96-yd TD drive before coming out of the game late in the second quarter. Newcomer Tommy Maddox goes 11 of 17 for 144 yds, punctuated by a 33-yd TD to Demetrius Brown. Conversely, Detroit QBs Charlie Batch and Mike McMahon struggle for a combined 13 of 33 for 174 yds as the Steelers outgain Detroit by nearly 200 yds. A huge THANK YOU to Erik Bell for generously providing this game!
2001 Steelers 20 at Bills 3
After a bye week and the postponement of week 2 due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Steelers understandably come in a little rusty. What isn't understandable are the flag-happy refs, who seem determined to penalize Pittsburgh on every other play, even flagging Bill Cowher on the sidelines at one point. The Steelers amass nearly as much penalty yardage (12 penalties for 125 yds) as Buffalo has offensive yards (172 yds). Pittsburgh had just been penalized 3 straight times for 35 yds late in the 1st quarter when Brent Alexander forces a Travis Henry fumble. Dwayne Washington scoops up the ball, breaks a tackle and out-races Peerless Price to the end zone for a stunning 63-yd Steeler TD. It's the only score Pittsburgh needs as the defense throttles Buffalo from there, sacking Brad Johnson 4 times and holding Henry to only 30 yds on 17 carries. Meanwhile, the Bus shows no signs of rust at all, rumbling for 114 yds on 22 carries to help compensate for a shaky performance by Kordell Stewart. Kris Brown adds 3 FGs and Fu rumbles 22 yds for a late TD to ice the game.
2001 Steelers 16 vs Bengals 7
This week 4 matchup ends up being the inaugural game at Heinz Field because the NFL postponed week 2 in the wake of the horrific 9/11 attacks. I was fortunate enough to attend this game in person. My most memorable moment from the game (and the loudest cheer of the day) came at halftime when President Bush announced via the Jumbotron that the U.S. had begun air strikes against Afghanistan. The whole stadium erupted into cheers and waving American flags, which were handed to each person as we entered the gates. The entire stadium was transfixed, all eyes glued to the Jumbotron, with flags raised high into the air. It was a surreal experience and a scene of national unity that I'll never forget.
The game itself is a dominating performance by the Steelers on both sides of the ball, despite the relatively close final score. The Steelers outrush the Bengals 275-65, led by Jerome Bettis' 23-carry, 153-yard day. On his first touch, the Bus rumbles off right guard for 48 yds, eclipsing the 10,000-yard career milestone a few carries later.
But despite owning a 248-68 yardage advantage at halftime, the Steelers lead only 10-0 thanks to failed 4th down attempts, turnovers and multiple missed scoring opportunities. Cinci briefly shows signs of life, narrowing the score to 31-7, but a late Stewart-to-Ward 24-yd pass sets up Kris Brown's 48-yd FG to seal it with 1:52 left.
Footage includes some KDKA pregame coverage, then cuts to CBS coverage of the Afghanistan strikes, including President Bush's address to the nation. The game is joined in progress with 11:27 left in first quarter and includes commercials and halftime war coverage. A huge thank you goes out to Brad Geffers for contributing this game!
2001 Steelers 34 vs Titans 7 MNF
Pittsburgh feasts on turnovers and trickery and the offense finally breaks loose as the Steelers use a kicker (Kris Brown) to run for a first down, a wide receiver (Hines Ward) to throw passes and to run 36 yds for a first down, and Kordell Stewart actually completes multiple passes to a tight end (yes, a tight end!). Best of all, Plaxico Burress finally has a breakout game, catching 6 balls for 151 yds including a pair of deep, acrobatic catches that set up 2 Steeler TDs. Bettis scores 2 TDs and Stewart is solid, hitting 13 of 22 for 232 yds, a 3-yd TD pass (Ward), no INTs and a 2-yd rushing TD. Meanwhile, the defense recovers two fumbles, picks off two passes and sacks Steve McNair 3 times while throttling Eddie George, who manages just 13 yds on 10 carries. This game marks the last time the Steelers and Oilers/Titans meet as division rivals due to realignment and the win gives the Steelers sole possession of 1st place in the AFC Central. A special thanks to Keith "Crash" Froehlich for digitizing this game!
2001 Steelers 10 vs Ravens 13
Rarely does the blame for a loss in the NFL fall squarely on the shoulders of a single player, but this heartbreaking loss to the thoroughly-outplayed Ravens is one such occassion. Kicker Kris Brown suffers through a nightmarish performance, missing 4 consecutive field goal tries including a kick at the end of regulation that would've resulted in overtime. Other than Brown's kicking, the Steelers play quite well, outgaining the Ravens 348 to 183 with strong performances by Stewart (22 of 37, 236 yds, 1 TD), Bettis (23 carries, 91 yds) and Ward (9 catches, 97 yds). Ward also notches a TKO of Rod Woodson on a block during a running play when Ward comes flying out of nowhere and just CREAMS Woodson with a head shot that takes the former Steeler off his feet and nearly separates his head from his body. The next shot we see of Rod is of him spitting blood on the sideline. The Steeler defense plays inspired football and had Baltimore not been aided by several incredible punts in the first half (the Steelers seemed to perpetually start drives inside their own 15), things would've been considerably different. If Brown hits just one of his missed FGs, there's no doubt in my mind Pittsburgh wins. But as they say, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good and on this day, luck is on the Raven's side.
2001 Steelers 15 at Browns 12 OT
Cleveland jumps out to an early 9-0 lead after trapping Bettis in the end zone for a safety and taking advantage of the short field on their ensuing drive to score on a Tim Couch 12-yd TD pass. The Steelers move the ball well all day, outgaining Cleveland 428-187, but repeatedly squander scoring opportunities. In the first quarter, Stewart hits Burress with a perfect 25-yd TD strike in the end zone... but Burress drops it and the Steelers settle for 3. Just before the half, Stewart scrambles and throws a deep pass to Troy Edwards inside the Cleveland 10... but Edwards drops it. Late in the 3rd, Stewart hits Amos Zeroue on a 62-yd screen that looks like it will go for a sure TD... but Zeroue trips over his own feet and is downed at the 2 yd line. On the next play, Stewart rolls right, then scrambles left for and reaches toward the end zone for what appears to be a Pittsburgh TD... but upon further review, the ball is swatted out of Stewart's hand just before he crosses the goal line and bounces out of the end zone for a Cleveland touchback and no points for Pittsburgh. The Browns are unable to capitalize as Tim cOUCH is sacked 7 times in the 2nd half and a Kris Brown FG ties the game at 12 midway through the 4th. With 1:47 left in regulation, Kris Brown has a chance to win it... but misses from 45 yds. The game goes to overtime, but Cleveland's fate is sealed when Pittsburgh wins the coin toss. On the very first play of the extra period, the Bus rumbles for 27 bone-jarring yards and the last bastion of Cleveland resistance comes crumbling down. The Steelers proceed to run 8 straight times (7 by Bettis, who gains 48 of his 163 yds on the drive) against the demoralized Browns, setting the stage for Kris Brown's redeeming 32-yd game-winning kick. Includes postgame highlights and interviews.
2001 Steelers 20 vs Jaguars 7
With Bettis held to minus yardage for much of the game, Kordell Stewart carries the load with 266 yds passing and 51 yds rushing, scoring TDs through the air and on the ground. Hines Ward also comes up big with 9 catches for 112 yds and a TD. With Mark Brunell unexpectedly sitting out due to injury, Jonathan Quinn gets the start at QB for Jacksonville and while he doesn't throw any INTs, he is sacked 5 times and loses 3 devastating fumbles. Trailing 13-0 and being thoroughly dominated, the Jags appear to be headed for a shutout. But a 95-yd kickoff return on the final play of the 3rd quarter makes it a game at 13-7 and gives the Jags new life. The Jaguars drive to the Steeler 18 with 3-1/3 minutes remaining, but Quinn suffers his 3rd and most costly fumble of the game after a vicious blindside hit by by Joey Porter. Casey Hampton recovers and on the very next play, Bettis takes a pitch to the right, bounces off a couple of would-be tacklers and explodes through the line for a 40-yard run. A play later, Zereoue rips off a 28-yd run to set up Stewart's 7-yd score a few plays later on a QB draw with 1:56 remaining.
2001 Steelers 34 at Titans 24
Chad Scott gets burned for a 68-yd McNair-to-Dyson bomb on Tennessee's first offensive play of the game as the Steelers fall behind 14-3. But Scott bounces back with a dramatic 45-yd pick-6 late in the 4th quarter to seal the win for Pittsburgh. While the Titans do a decent job of bottling up The Bus (73 yds on 21 carries), their focus on Bettis opens the door for Kordell Stewart, who passes for 254 yds and 2 TDs and adds a rushing TD on a dazzling 48-yd scramble. Stewart is particularly effective on 3rd down, going 7 of 9 for 87 yds and 2 TDs (a 146.5 passer rating). Burress enjoys the 2nd 100-yd receiving game of his young career (8 catches, 114 yds 1 TD), Hines Ward snags 7 catches for 99 yds and Troy Edwards adds a pivotal 81-yd kickoff return, setting up a Stewart-to-Zeroue TD screen pass that gives the Steelers the lead for good.
2001 Steelers 21 vs Vikings 16
The Steelers dominate for 3 quarters, jumping out to a 21-3 in large part due to the efforts of unexpected hero Troy Edwards, who scores on a 12-yd end around to put Pittsburgh up 14-3, then forces a fumble on the ensuing kickoff leading to another Steelers TD. Bettis is unstoppable until a hip injury sidelines him late in the 3rd quarter and without Bettis, the Steelers offense goes lifeless, picking up only 1 first down during the entire 4th quarter. Meanwhile, Minnesota's offense suddenly comes alive as the Steeler defense gives up more yardage in the final 8 minutes than they had in the previous 52 minutes. Michael Bennett scores an easy 80-yd TD on a screen catch-and-run, the Steelers go 3-and-out, and Randy Moss covers 74-yds in 2 catches - a 62-yard bomb and a 12-yd fade for the TD -- both over Chad Scott. On the ensuing drive, Stewart is sacked and coughs up the ball to Minnesota at the Steelers 10 yd line, but the Steelers avert disaster as the Vikings fail to convert and turn the ball over on downs. Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala then picks up Pittsburgh's only 1st down of the 4th quarter, a 46-yd burst on 3rd and 10 to seal the game.
2001 Steelers 18 vs Jets 7
Playing without Jerome Bettis due to injury, the Steelers perform remarkably well offensively in the 1st half. Surprisingly, it's not Pittsburgh's vaunted defense or running game (both ranked No. 1 in the NFL) that inflict the most damage. Instead, Kordell Stewart carves up the Jets' secondary, including a 13-of-20 performance for 167 yards in the 1st half. The Steelers' first 3 offensive series each produce points after long, sustained drives. And while Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala's 50 yds on 21 carries certainly won't make anyone forget about The Bus, Fu does score Pittsburgh's only TD on a 1-yd plunge. NFL rushing leader Curtis Martin is limited to 58 harmless yards rushing but stuns the Steelers on a trick HB pass in which Martin takes the handoff, rolls right and throws a perfect strike to Chrebet in the corner of the end zone. Kris Brown's erratic season continues, missing a PAT and 2 FGs, including a miss after a beautifully executed onside kick late in the first half. But Brown does hit a pair of FG's in the 4th quarter to give the Steelers some breathing room as Pittsburgh's defense throttles New York in the 2nd half en route to their 10th win of the season.
2001 Steelers 26 at Ravens 21 SNF
Despite the absence of Bettis due to a groin injury, the Steelers control the line of scrimmage and the clock, churning out long drives and absolutely dominating time of possession (a whopping 40:05 to 18:55) en route to the AFC Central crown. Kordell Stewart (20 of 31, 333 yds, 2 TD, 0 Int, 10 runs, 55 yds) has one of his finest days as a pro and leads 2 clutch TD drives in the 4th quarter, including a picture-perfect deep seam route to Bobby Shaw for a stunning, record-tying 90-yd catch and run. Plaxico Burress has the best game of his young career, catching 8 balls for 164 yds and a TD. An incredibly satisfying win after a week of non-stop trashtalk by a loud-mouthed, over-confident Ravens team suffering from delusions of grandeur. Includes pregame Bradshaw interview with Kordell and some postgame.
2001 Steelers 47 vs Lions 14
This one gets ugly early as Lions rookie QB Mike McMahon loses 2 fumbles and throws an INT in the first 18 minutes of the game, leading to 2 TDs and a 27-7 Pittsburgh lead. Joey Porter nails McMahon from behind for the first of Pittsburgh's six sacks on just the 3rd play of the game, forcing a fumble which Jason Gildon scoops up and returns 27 yds for an easy TD. Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala has his finest day as a pro (26 carries, 126 yds) while Kordell Stewart throws for 3 TDs and rushes for another. Missing kickoff.
2001 Steelers 23 at Bengals 26 OT
A surreal game. Kordell Stewart throws 4 INTs in Pittsburgh's final 6 possessions to blow a 23-10 lead late in the 4th quarter. The Steelers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing Jon Kitna -- JOHN F-ING KITNA -- to throw 68 times for a career high 411 yds and score 2 TDs in the final 3 minutes of regulation. Neil Rackers misses an extra point that would have won the game with 37 seconds left in regulation, sending the game to overtime. The Steelers win the toss in OT but their drive stalls at the Cinci 39. A beautiful punt by Josh Miller pins the Bengals at their own 1, but to no avail. Cinci effortlessly drives 86-yds to the Steeler 13 and Rackers atones for his missed PAT with a 31-yd game-winner to shock the Steelers. Many people point to Cinci's pass-happy scheme in this game as cracking the code of the Steelers defense, leading to blowout losses to New England and Oakland to start the 2002 season.
2001 Steelers 28 vs Browns 7
With a bye week coming and home-field advantage already guaranteed throughout the playoffs, most Steeler starters play only the first half of this cold, snowy game and some -- such as Jerome Bettis and Alan Faneca -- don't play at all due to injuries. Backup Tommy Maddox replaces Kordell Stewart in the 2nd half and hits Bobby Shaw for a 40-yd TD and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala and R.J. Bowers combine for 2 TDs and 165 of Pittsburgh's 221 rushing yds behind an O-line filled with backups. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's defense limits Cleveland to 173 total yds, intercepting Tim Couch twice and sacking him 4 times.
2001 Post Season
2001 AFC Playoffs Steelers 27 vs Ravens 10
Despite non-stop pregame bragging by the Ravens and despite learning just before kickoff that Bettis wouldn't play because of a reaction to a painkilling shot, the Steelers simply overpower the defending champs, limiting Baltimore to 3 first downs through the first 3 quarters, allowing a puny average of 2.9 yds on 51 plays and controling the ball for nearly 20 more minutes. While Kordell Stewart is solid and plays relatively mistake-free football, Elvis Grbac suffers through a nightmare, throwing 3 devastating interceptions including 2 by Brent Alexander -- the first in the end zone to prevent the Ravens from getting back in the game with Pittsburgh up 10-0 and the second midway through the fourth quarter, ending any chance of Baltimore a comeback. Stewart is efficient, setting up both of Zereoue's scoring runs with effective passing and ultimately connecting with Burress on a 32-yard TD strike in the 4th quarter to salt the game away. Baltimore's only TD comes on an 88-yd punt return by Jermaine Lewis.
2001 AFC Championship Steelers 17 vs Patriots 24
This game sucked. Don't even get me started on the illegal forward lateral on the blocked FG that was pitched at the 50 yd line and caught at the Patriots 49 yd line. What a squandered opportunity.