Hey, first of all, a little introduction. I'm new in this site, I'm 19 and a Steeler fan since I can remember. I'm from Mexico City, currently in college in Monterrey, Mexico. This is my first ever post, mainly inspired by the loud party outside that does not let me sleep but whatever.
One of my favorite things to do about football is to remember where was I when that great game happened, since mostly I cannot go through sunday without football. And I'm sure you can all remember some great games and the first thing you think about when you remember that game is how crazy you were going over the horrible play calling, or an officiating miscue, etc etc. This is something that I thought I could share with the rest of the Steeler nation and it seemed to be the right moment to remember this game with the Steelers vs Browns rivalry about to be resumed for what hopefully will be another memorable chapter in the Steelers glorious history.
Anyway, I have been following the team since the late 90s and early 00s, but I was too young to remember. One game though that I will never be able to forget happened on Sunday January 5th 2003. It was the Wild Card Sunday for the 2002 playoffs, the Steelers were about to face their eternal rivals Cleveland Browns for the 3rd time in the year. That morning was probably the ideal morning in my life; the whole morning with my dad preparing for our greatest tradition: watching the Steelers game together. My mom was out for the morning so it was only us, it was great, just playing around, getting breakfast.
Time for the game. We didn't have cable at the time so we had to withstand the national TV broadcast which is by no means good; they constantly skip plays with commercial breaks and their comments are borderline idiotic, so we muted the TV and instead commented the game ourselves. As probably most of you remember, the 1st half was a nightmare. The defense was getting torched by the Browns' passing attack led by Kelly Holcomb and the offense stalled on almost every drive. The ones they didn't stall they got into Browns territory only for Touchdown Tommy Maddox to throw an interception trying to get the team into the endzone. At the half, the Steelers were down 17-7 and it didn't seem like there was much of a chance for them to recover; but a football game is 60 minutes, let's see what else can happen in the 2nd half.
The 2nd half didn't really started with the Steelers coming out of the tunnel and killing the Browns, instead, Cleveland built on their lead to make it 24-7 midway in the 3rd. Until later when we watched the game with sound (we used to tape games) did we realize the commentator actually said, right before the commercial break after the TD made it 24-7, something like next week, we'll have the Browns trying to upset the Raiders in Oakland California. Obviously this wasn't the perfect day we had imagined, my dad was going crazy and I was completely freaked out (my dad actually takes it quite intensely, at the time it used to scare the hell out of me, now, I might even be worse than him).
In the middle of the 3rd, the Steelers were trying to put together a nice drive to cut the lead, and somehow managed to get into the endzone with a Burress TD reception that was pointlessly challenged by Browns coach Butch Davis. It was obvious it was a TD so the call stood, costing the Browns a timeout that would end up being crucial. Then, the Browns were driving again, with ease. I remember the broadcast showed a stat that just added insult to injury. The Browns actually had negative yardage on the ground, but were torching the Steelers secondary at will. Then, my mom walked into the room. She looked at us all pissed off about the game and asked what's the score. We didn't even look at her, just stood there silent. She looked at the TV and said: don't worry, they're gonna win.
We didn't say anything to my mom after she said that- she was trying to cheer us up right? The Steelers had done nothing right up to that point so it was impossible, the season is over. Well, that day I learned never to doubt my mother. A few plays later Mike Logan picked off a Holcomb pass and the comeback was on.
Tommy Maddox just got a hot hand for the rest of the afternoon. The pick led to a TD throw that shockingly made past the defender's hands (it was just meant to be). The problem was the defense still couldn't stop the Browns, they matched every Steelers score with one of their own. But a couple of that were FGs so the Steelers were still cutting into their lead. However, after a Browns TD made it 33-21 with about half a quarter left to play, the Steelers were at the break point. The had to score twice and not allow more Cleveland points.
With the next Steelers drive came the first of 2 key plays that resulted in a Browns defeat. Maddox went deep and high looking for Randle El in double coverage. The pass was overthrown and went right into the hands of a Browns safety who...DROPPED IT! The Steelers were still alive and marched on for the TD to make it 33-28. Then, the Browns had to get a first down to secure a win. The first play, a run that resulted in little or no gain, however, the result of that play may have been the inopportune end to a promising career as Kendrell Bell injured his knee. The second play, a deep ball down the sideline. The Browns had torched the Steelers all day with deep passes so we held our breath. CB Dewayne Washington managed to break it up so it was 3rd down, with the season on the line, the Steelers had to stop them. Shotgun, throw, WR wide open in the sideline and....DROPS IT!. 2 key drops in the final quarter that could have secured the game for Cleveland, well, too bad, the Steelers get the ball back.
On that final drive, I was going nuts, I even grabbed my Terrible towel and started waving it through the living room, it was amazing. 2 more comments from the announcer that we discover later when watching the game with sound. After promising the Cleveland at Oakland game earlier he said: right now the guy making the reservations in Oakland must be like "can you wait for a few minutes?". Then, moments before Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala got the winning TD he said: right now, the Steelers have time to attempt a run, the Browns have to worry about the run. Well, for once he was right, the Steelers ran, scored and got the lead for the first time all game long. We were all going nuts; the last seconds of that game had us standing the whole time, watching as the Browns tried to get into FG range, but it was over, the Steelers had completed the comeback and I would never doubt my mom again.
The party actually ended a while ago but I was so amused writing this that I went on. I hope you guys like this post and comment to tell me your memories of this great game. I hope to be able to contribute to this great site, although college sometimes does not give me much free time, I'll try to post stuff regularly.