Of mid January
The Chargers can upset and shock
I see no reason
Why the '94 season
Should ever be forgot
We were very careful around here not to mention the 1994-'95 AFC Championship Game all week leading up to this game. San Diego came in huge underdogs and upset the Steelers in one of the most stunning upsets in Pittsburgh history.
Personally, I can't ever remember feeling so dejected after a sporting event. The only other one that could come close was the Pirates loss to the Braves in the '92 NLCS. But we won't go there now. This game was all about one thing: exorcising demons.
Starring Dick LeBeau
Styx rocked out the national anthem...
Woodley dominates with his water-spraying.
Best introduction picture of the year?
Speaking of awesome pictures from this game, here's another:
No point to posting this except for its photographic awesomeness.
The Steelers won the toss and deferred. Kickoff time. Everything all week was about stopping Darren Sproles. Keyaron Fox and Lawrence Timmons are all over it.
San Diego comes out firing with a play-action pass to Gates on the weak side for a big gain. Sproles gets stuffed on a running play, then reels one in for 12 yards to get close to the Steelers 40. Rivers goes play action and fires over the top for Jackson, who reels it in with Ike in single coverage for the touchdown.
Yeah, Ben's punt was better than Berger's would have been.
San Diego comes out thinking that our safeties have pulled back and that they might have a sliver of hope to run the ball. Yeah right. Sproles gains minimal yardage on two plays, then gets overthrown on third down. Huge stand by the defense after giving up a touchdown on the first drive. But no one had any idea what was about to come next.
First Punt Return TD in the playoffs since Antwaan Randel El broke a 66-yarder against Cleveland in January 2003 in the game where Tommy Gun brought us back against the Browns.
The offense comes back on the field looking to get things rolling. After nothing on first down, Ben goes deep for Nate, but Nate can't reel it in, setting up a third and long where Ben gets sacked by a blitzing safety while Mewelde Moore stands around and blocks no one. Punt.
Sproles bounces a run for eight, his longest tote of the day, then picks up the first down with a four-yard plunge as the quarter expires.
Farrior and Harrison stuff Sproles on the first play of the new frame, then Gates pulls one down across the middle to set up 3rd-and-short. Aaron Smith is all over the Sproles run and stops him short of the sticks. Turner wastes a timeout by challenging the call and he loses. Punt.
The next drive was all about one guy: Willie Parker. Parker got four straight touches running for seven, five, six, and five before Moore gave him a breather. Moore picked up four, then Parker came back for three more, setting up 3rd-and-short.
After an incompletion on first down, Harrison gets pressure and forces an incompletion on second down. Ike blitzes off the corner and Rivers throws one up for Jackson, which is ruled a catch. Tomlin challenges the 43-yard completion and wins it, sending the Chargers packing with a three-and-out.
Ben overthrows an open Santonio Holmes on a deep corner route, bringing up second down. Hines pulls one in, but the proctologist report comes in and it says we need a Colonoscopy. Illegal Formation.
Heath peels off a block to find himself wide open in the flat. He runs over a Charger in the end zone for good measure.
Parker runs twice to set up 3rd-and-3 where Ben hands to Moore going left, but Holmes gets it on the reverse going the other way and scampers for the first down. Parker gets four on first down, but a Heath Miller holding penalty on the next play sets things back. The Steelers can't recover and have to punt.
When you have a sucky punter, sometimes it works out. For the second time this year, a Berger punt hits one of the coverage guys from the other team. This time it was Chargers safety Eric Weddle...in the head. Big Play Willie Gay recovers, giving the Steelers new life at the San Diego 23.
Stapleton sets us back with his second false start of the game. After a broken play on first down, Ben hits Hines for a big 19-yarder to get down to the nine. San Diego gets flagged for a late hit out of bounds, moving the ball down to the four.
San Diego ran one offensive play in the third quarter. It was an interception.
On first down, Rivers hits Hester out of the backfield in the flat. Hester turns it upfield and streaks for 11 yards and a first down. LaMarr Woodley, who is making a serious run at being nicknamed "The Undertaker" buries Rivers back at the two.
Parker gets four yards on first down, then Ben goes deep again. This time, Nate draws a pass interference penalty in the end zone, giving us the ball on the one. Gary Russell is no nonsense this time and The Bulldozer blasts his way in from a yard out.
...and busts out his row the boat celebration.
However, Polamalu misses a tackle in the flat against the tight end not named Gates, allowing the Chargers to keep the drive alive. Sproles pulls in a crossing route grab for 11 yards, moving them into Steelers territory.
So what do the Steelers do with their lead chopped to 11 and just over 9 minutes on the clock? Come out throwing. Deep. Nate almost comes down with it, but it slips out of his hands as he hits the ground. Clock stopped. Nate comes back with a big second down catch to get to 3rd-and-3.
Bring on the Ravens.
Harrison, who was getting held all game, breaks through a hold and brings down Rivers.
Byron brings out the second string offense, complete with Limas Sweed and the second-string O-Line. Russell gets two carries and the Chargers strangely use their time outs. Why do you punt and then use time outs as if you're still trying to win? That makes no sense.
With just under 3:00 to play, San Diego comes out firing against the prevent. Rivers hits Chambers for 20, then Hester out of the backfield for a short gain. Rivers goes down the sidelines for Jackson and Ike rips the ball away, coming out with it.
Game. Vendetta accomplished. Demons of '94 be gone.
Offensive Game Ball: Santonio Holmes
Five tackles (three for a loss), and two huge sacks where he just buried Rivers.
Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Carey Davis with the ball in his hands
- Bring on the Ravens!
- Mike Tomlin is 11-1 in his career against divisional opponents
- Time of Possession: Steelers 36:30, Chargers 23:30
- Huge game by Parker. He still looks fresh, which bodes well for the next game, even against Baltimore's tough defense.
- I know we can get pressure on Flacco
- Did the Chargers have a pass rush today? Great job by the offensive line, particularly Hartwig, Stapleton, and Kemoeatu against Williams in the middle.
- Ben had a fantastic game. He wasn't flashy, didn't put up big numbers, but he was efficient and didn't turn the ball over, which is all we needed from him.
- Great to see Holmes have a big game
- Hines always has huge games against Baltimore
- The road to the Super Bowl goes through Pittsburgh. What a great feeling.
- Believe it. Yes. We. Can.
- Even though none of them were complete, I don't mind trying to go over the top. I like the play calls. It kept the safeties back, allowing Parker some room to run between the tackles.
- We should run the ball on 3rd-and-2.
- San Diego had one play in the third quarter. What a performance by the Steelers.
- I've got a feeling....