One year ago today, the Steelers pulled off a last-second victory over the Packers to end a five-game losing streak, their longest in three seasons. The streak knocked them out of the playoff race and caused safety Ryan Clark to briefly lose his mind. Here’s an article I wrote just after the win.
Originally written December 20, 2009
Stop the presses. Pop open the champagne. Ring the church bells. Set off the fireworks. Call the Mayor, the Governor, the President, and the Rooneys.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won a football game.
Tomorrow morning, look for the following headline, in size 24-font, bold capital letters, on the front page of daily newspapers all across the state: PITTSBURGH BEATS GREEN BAY.
News outlets from all over the country will choose this as their lead story of the night. Writers will pull their hair out trying to find words to express what transpired. Coaches across all levels, when looking for ways to inspire their players, will scream thunderously, “Did the STEELERS quit when they lost FIVE IN A ROW? NO!”
Cheeseheads all over Wisconsin will grit their teeth and seethe and hem and haw as they realize that their guys have lost to a team like the Steelers. There will be cries to bench Aaron Rodgers, to fire Mike McCarthy, to bring back Brett Favre, to have Ted Thompson shipped to Saskatchewan.
The Steelers went 40 days without winning a game. That’s 35 days longer than George O’Leary’s tenure at Notre Dame, 30 days longer than Rasheed Wallace’s tenure with the Atlanta Hawks, and 16 days longer than Donte Stallworth’s stint in a Miami prison.
If Noah started building his ark after the last Steelers win, he would be done by now.
The last time the Steelers won a football game, Ken Griffey, Jr. was still in his thirties. Ken Ober, Foge Fazio, Tommy Henrich and the D.C. Sniper were still alive. Taylor Swift was still a teenager.
Lots of things happened in between. Al Groh, Charlie Weiss, Lawrence Frank and Dick Jauron joined the ranks of the unemployed.
The New Jersey Nets lost 18 games in a row. Talk about a losing streak.
Hank Baskett became a father.
Britney Spears turned 28.
Tiger Woods…well, let’s not even get started with him.
In Pittsburgh, things turned ugly during the losing streak. There was civil unrest in the streets. Ryan Clark was getting sacks full of hate mail every week. Mike Tomlin was branded as the second coming of the tyrant, Jon Gruden.
The citizens urged Dick LeBeau to retire. They called for Bob Ligashesky to be fired. They demanded that Bruce Arians be dragged off to Market Square, where he would be hanged, drawn and quartered.
New rivalries were spawned. We all remember John Madden’s Raiders and Don Shula’s Dolphins. We all know about Jerry Jones’ Cowboys and Bill Belichick’s Patriots. Now we have Eric Mangini’s Browns and Todd Haley’s Chiefs, rivalries which have the potential to eclipse any others in terms of intensity and longevity.
But none of that matters now. No more chants of “Six-and-seven! Boom-boom-bom-bom-bom. Six-and-seven! Boom-boom-bom-bom-bom.” No more jokes about Super Bowl hangovers and locker room scuffles and players being thrown under bus by The Bus himself.
The Steelers have won a football game.
Grandfathers will be bouncing grandchildren on their knees someday, telling them about the Sunday late-afternoon game back in December 2009 when the Steelers beat the hated Packers. FSN will show retrospectives of this game during baseball rain delays. ESPN Classic will rerun the game every year on the eve of training camp.
It has been reported that Ben Roethlisberger’s game-worn spikes will soon be on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Those who were lucky enough to attend the game in person would be wise to save those ticket stubs in shoeboxes for the rest of their lives. The media members who were lucky enough to be in the press box during this game will never again experience anything like it.
Move over Bradshaw, Franco, and Lambert. There is a new cast of legends about to join you. Names like Wallace, Foster, and Burnett will never be forgotten.
For many of the players, if not all, it will be the highlight of their careers. It will be memorialized on DVD and with a special commemorative issue of Sports Illustrated. Executives at ESPN are already working on an NFL Films documentary about this game
Here we go Steelers, here we go. Wave those Terrible Towels proudly.
There will be riots in the Southside and Oakland tonight. Pittsburgh schools will all be on a 2-hour delay. Courts and post offices will be closed for a day of celebration. The city council will meet only for one hour, to discuss rewriting the budget so the city can afford another parade.
O happy day. Joy to the world. Christmas come early.