The details of December 11th, 2005 are fairly vague in my mind. I can't tell you how I ended up with two tickets to see the Steelers play the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field. I know that my son at the time was not quite four years old and was going to the game with me that day. It would be his 1st.
The team at that time had lost three straight games and were sitting at 7-5, just outside a playoff berth in the AFC. Oddly enough, two of those losses would come against teams that they would face weeks later in the post-season. One thing was certain and that was another loss would have spelled doom for any chance of playing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The weather was not that good, although my son who was 3 at the time really enjoyed the heavy snowflakes that were falling as we made our way across the rivers on a boat towards our destination. When you are three, heavy snowflakes are pretty awesome. I was annoyed, but it was December football in Pittsburgh so you suck it up and go with it.
We took our seats towards the closed end zone on the 10 yard line. They were on the 1st level on the Steelers side of the field. Great seats for what would be a critical game for both teams. My kid at the time was enjoying the sights and sounds, oh yeah and that snow. He got a big kick out of that.
"Dad can we get some hot chocolate,' was his 1st question when we got seated just before kickoff. With cold temperatures and snow falling, I was game so we promptly got back up and grabbed some. I know it made him happy, but for me I was there to watch the game.
As we settled in it became clear to me who the better team was that afternoon. The Bears were not very effective offensively as the Steelers D was very stout, allowing just 83 yards rushing and holding the Monsters to just 3 of 13 on 3rd down plays. You could tell early on this was going to go the way of the home team and that was ok by me.
By halftime it was 10-3 Steelers and the snow kept falling, as did the temperature. My son noticed both. 'I'm cold dad,' he chimed. "Can we get a blanket?"
Now what kind of father would I have been if I had said no?
Please don't answer that.
So $30 later we were back in our seats bundled up in a fine Steelers blanket awaiting the start of the 2nd half. But even the blanket didn't help things as my son was more interested in leaving than staying.
"Why can't we go,' he whined. "It's cold and I'm tired."
Note to self, don't take a 3 year old to an NFL game in December.
"Don't worry Spencer,' I said to my son, "something big will happen soon and then we can leave."
It wouldn't take long for what would become a signature play in the career of Jerome Bettis and one forgetful moment for Brian Urlacher.
After forcing a 3 and out to start the 2nd half, the Steelers took possession of the ball and put together one of those drives that they were known for. One that took more than 10 plays and ate up a lot of clock. It was a punishing, rugged, slobber knocker type of drive. One even John Madden would have loved. As the Steelers drew closer to the Bears goal line, you knew something big was gonna happen.
And then it did.
Bettis would take a handoff from Ben Roethlisberger and run over the Midway linebacker on his way to the end zone and lead they would not let go of. We witnessed this from our seats just yards away and when that took place, I picked up my kid and sprinted towards the exit.
As we sat on the Clipper boat getting warm and listening to the 4th quarter on the radio, I thought to myself that was pretty neat. Did I just watch something that would turn out to be historic in a man's career that would come to and end seven weeks later in his hometown?
Yes I sure did.
John Phillips is the author of this article. He is a reporter/sports anchor in Pittsburgh for CBS Radio's 93.7 The Fan and News Radio 1020 KDKA. You can follow JP on Twitter @JPOnTheFan