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Throwback Thursday: Steelers legend Rod Woodson dominated in the 1990's

We take a look back at just how great Rod Woodson would be at times, specifically on the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers when he intercepted Steve Young twice and blocked a field goal.

Throwback Thursday time!

Bill Cowher opened up his second season as a head coach against the San Francisco 49ers with a young Pittsburgh team and unsure as to who Pittsburgh should play at quarterback. While Mike Tomczak would get the start for the game, Neil O'Donnell would later come into the game to finish the job and many questions were in front of the team after losing the season opener.

One position that was not in question however was the starting cornerback position held by Rod Woodson.

Woodson was entering his seventh season in the NFL and was already a primary contributor to the Steelers' defense. While he had plenty of interceptions in his first six seasons, he would never record more in a single season than he did in the 1993 NFL season when he picked off eight passes.

Two of those eight came in the season opener against Steve Young, Jerry Rice and the San Francisco 49ers. We take a look at some of those golden highlights of one of Pittsburgh's best defenders in the franchise's history.

First interception:

Steve Young was feeling the pressure of a linebacker corps that was led by the future Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene, as well as Greg Lloyd, Levon Kirkland and a rookie Chad Brown. Pressure coming from legends such as these can often lead to interceptions such as this one when Woodson high points the ball perfectly to give the Steelers the ball in 49ers' territory. But this would not be Woodson' most impressive interception on the day.

One handed interception:

Just when you think that Young had a man deep to put the game away, Woodson comes in to save the day. His one-handed interception on Jerry Rice was impressive not only for his athleticism, but also for its deception. Young was under pressure dodging Greg Lloyd and later getting hammered by Kevin Greene, but he threw a decent ball from his position to Jerry Rice who had nobody between him and the end zone. The only problem was that Rod Woodson was playing defense that day and he was able to come off his assignment to make a great play on the ball. He even handed off the interception to D.J. Johnson for him to get another 20 yards out of the play.

Blocked field goal in fourth quarter:

Just when you think this playmaking terror was done, he makes you realize you know nothing. If you played Tecmo Super Bowl on the old Nintendo, you might remember the likes of Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders and Bo Jackson being untoppable with the ball in their hands. Rod Woodson was that guy for Pittsburgh. If you put him at kick return he could outrun everyone and if you timed it right you could block every single extra point and field goal with him rushing off the corner. Here he shows that he can do that in real life.

The 49ers at this point are trying to seal the game by adding to their lead with a 48 yard field goal attempt, but Woodson ruins everything yet again. He was a one man wrecking crew that could not be tamed in his young days.

Salute to Rod

What is even crazier than these plays? Rod Woodson was entering his seventh season when this game was played and he went on to play ten more seasons after this. He would only duplicate his eight interception single season performance once, when he was 37 years old playing for the Oakland Raiders in 2002.

Woodson is one of the classic Steelers, but what's impressive in saying that is that he was part of none of the franchise's six Super Bowl championship teams. He put out an extraordinary effort every time he saw the field and his athleticism earned him praise from Dan Rooney to be the most athletic player Chuck Noll ever drafted. Even when he was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, he maintained his humble demeanor that fit with the class of a blue collar Steelers star that stereotypes many of the team's most legendary players.

Two years ago, Woodson was on a panel discussion about the greatest defense that ever played in the Super Bowl era. While Warren Sapp and Antonio Cromartie praised the 2000 Ravens because Woodson was part of their championship team, Woodson cut them off to say that the 1970's Steelers were the greatest defense that ever lived. He also praised Mel Blount as the best cornerback to ever play in the National Football League when NFL Films created their "Top Ten Pittsburgh Steelers of All Time" video. Woodson has often been humble and in his post-NFL broadcasting career he has made every effort to make sure that he remains that way. When he's compared to other NFL legends, he's just happy to be considered on that list.