#8 Greatest Play & Game at Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh - When conversation turns to great Steelers moments in Three Rivers Stadium, the majority of those discussions revolve around the glorious Super Bowl Championship teams of the '70s and early '80s.
But, many great moments transpired during the Bill Cowher era during the 1990s, when the Steelers captured five AFC Central Championships in six seasons, one AFC title and made a Super Bowl XXX appearance.
As part of the Steelers year-long Last Season at Three Rivers Stadium celebration, Steelers fans selected one of those memories as the eighth-greatest game at Three Rivers Stadium. It was the Steelers' dramatic 23-17 overtime victory Oct. 27 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a key game in the Steelers' 1997 AFC Championship season.
Coincidentally, the eighth-greatest play also occurred in that game: Kordell Stewart's 17-yard Shovel Pass to Jerome Bettis for the winning TD in Oct. 27, 1997 overtime game versus Jacksonville.
1997 Overtime Victory
Pittsburgh 23, Jacksonville 17
The Steelers overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Jaguars, 23-17. It was the fourth consecutive time the Steelers rallied from a double-digit lead by their opponent that season for a win. While the offense, which gained more than 400 yards in total offense, received most of the accolades for the game, the defense came up with a key four-play goal-line stand that kept the Jaguars out of the end zone in the fourth quarter to help send the game into overtime.
The decisive play in the game was a 17-yard "shovel" pass from Kordell Stewart to Jerome Bettis 5:47 into overtime. That play and the victory helped set the tone for the Steelers fourth consecutive AFC Central title and third trip to the AFC Championship game in four years.
The Steelers manufactured an impressive 98-yard scoring drive to give them their first lead of the game. But, the Jaguars capitalized on a Bettis fumble with 9:06 left in the game and regained the lead, 17-14. The Steelers answered on the ensuing series with a 19-yard Norm Johnson field goal to tie the game at 17-17 with 2:21 remaining, setting up overtime and Bettis' heroics.
The Steelers had an extremely productive day, gaining 439 yards in total offense, including Stewart's 317 passing yards and wide receiver Yancey Thigpen's 196 receiving yards on 11 receptions, both career highs. The Steelers defense was equally proficient, allowing just four third-down conversions for Jacksonville in 14 attempts.
Kordell Stewart's TD shovel pass to Jerome Bettis in overtime against Jacksonville
It was only coincidence that the eighth-greatest Steelers play at Three Rivers Stadium occurred in the eighth-greatest game. But, that is exactly how Steelers fans voted in the Steelers year-long Last Season at Three Rivers Stadium celebration.
To set the scene: The Steelers and AFC Central-rivals Jacksonville Jaguars were engaged in a typically tight contest in which the Steelers rallied from a 10-0 deficit. After taking their first lead in the game early in the fourth quarter, the Steelers committed a costly turnover on which Jacksonville capitalized and regained a 17-14 lead. The Steelers answered, though, with a 19-yard field goal with 2:21 remaining to send the game into overtime.
After winning the toss for the overtime period, the Steelers systematically marched to the Jacksonville 17-yard line. There, the Steelers caught an unsuspecting Jaguars defense with a nifty shovel pass.
Stewart slipped the shovel pass to Bettis, who rambled 17 yards virtually untouched for the game-winning touchdown.
Game Notes: Each home game there will be honorary game captains, who played for the Steelers during their 31 seasons at Three Rivers. This week's captains are: Hall of Famers Franco Harris (1972-83) and cornerback Mel Blount (1920-83).