Could Mike Tomzak and Jerome Bettis Lead the '96 Steelers to the First Upset?

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Could Mike Tomzak and Jerome Bettis Lead the '96 Steelers to the First Upset?

Let me fill you in a little bit on what I’m talking about here.  My best friend Steve and I play old school Strat-O-Matic football.  No computers involved except this part.  It’s all about rolling the dice, and guessing right at the right times.  We have a bunch of teams, old and new, totaling more than 200 card sets between us.  The teams were seeded on the cards as well as on prior game experience. 

There have been five previous tournaments also which helped decipher the ranking, that’s how the 1995 Pittsburg Steelers are such a high seed; they've won two of those tournaments.  At the beginning of each article I will recap the games we have played already.

For a complete look at the teams involved and a little more information on how the seeding was conducted I’m working that.  Got a few days maybe I can get it done.

Game one gave us a very close call at an upset between No. 7 1963 New York Giants took on the No. 58 1996 Carolina Panthers. Y.A. Tittle was able to find Del Shofner deep for a 42 yard TD to win the game 22-19.

Game two shows us why you gotta play the game again, as the  No. 10 seeded 1968 Baltimore Colts (13-1) took on a newcomer to the tournament,  No. 55 seeded 1996 Pittsburg Steelers.

Baltimore won the toss and elected to defer, which seemed to be a good idea at the time, at least. 

The Steelers opened the game as one might expect giving the ball the Jerome Bettis for five yards, then Bettis busted off tackle for a monster 41-yard run.  The Steelers would settle for a FG on the opening drive.

Baltimore got the ball back as Pittsburgh was able to keep the ball from the always dangerous Preston Pearson.  Earl Morrall took the field and the Steelers defense did its job forcing a three-and-out. 

On the ensuing punt, David Lee has it blocked inside the red zone.

Bettis pounded his way down to the five on three straight carries and Mike Tomzak hits Mark Bruener for a five-yard TD pass and catch, putting the Steelers up 10-0 early in the first.

The remainder of the fisrt, as much of the game, was controlled by the Steelers defense, running and short passing games. 

Pittsburgh would strike first in the second quarter on a field goal, but would lose a very integral part of their as Mark Bruener is lost for the game, finishing with 7 catches for 49 yard and a TD. 

The ensuing kickoff landed in Preston Pearson's dangerous hands and he takes it out of the endzone and returns it 50 yards, to near midfield.  

Earl Morrall who had a dismal game finishing 7-28 for 100 yards, four INTs and no TDs, was able to manage a FG.  Cutting the Steelers' lead to 13-3.

Tomzak and Bettis would take Pittsburgh down for another FG before the intermission, making it 16-3 at the half.

The Colts received the ball to start the second half of play, but as was much of the first half, Tom Matte was nonexistent and the Steelers defense continued to harass Morrall.

On the Steelers first possession of the second half, Tomzak finds a couple holes in the Colts defense yet again, with completions of 48 and 27 with a TD to Charles Johnson.  Johnson would end the game with seven cathces for 112 yards and three TDs.  That would be the only score of the third.

Jerome Bettis would have his fill in the fourth on his way to 32 carries for 203 yards. Tomzak manages to find Johnson for two more TDs in the final frame giving the Steelers a huge upset win 37-3.

Game three recap coming soon: No. 17 1984 San Francisco 49ers (15-1) host the No. 48 2004 Indionapolis Colts (12-4)

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