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Old school football works

Steelers 24, Oakland Raiders 21
September 12, 2004
Heinz Field

Old school football: The Steelers won this one the old-fashioned way. They relied heavily on their ground game and pressure filled defense to kick off the season with a hard fought 24-21 win, that came down to a last second field goal.

The Steelers jumped out to a 14-0 lead on two Jerome Bettis one-yard touchdown runs. After the Raiders closed the gap to 14-10, the Steelers opened things up with another Bettis one-yard touchdown run.

The Raiders wouldn't go away, tying the game at 21-21 with 4:51 to play in the fourth quarter. But the Steelers wouldn't be denied. Jeff Reed hit a 42-yard field goal with seven seconds to play to secure the win.

"Just another kick," said Reed. "I always tell myself, before any extra point, any kick, 'be a hero.' You could win by one and that extra point might matter. If it comes down to 21-21 with 10 seconds left, that's like the ideal situation at home.

"I didn't think about it until we actually got the ball. It was tied. Once we got the ball and they had no timeouts, I knew it would come down to one kick. And the way our offense was moving the ball, I wasn't really worried about getting position. I was worried about myself.

"To be honest, I had some nerves going. But it's all positive stuff. It's all adrenaline. You are in front of your home crowd. Your team has worked their butt off to get you in position. You have to come through."

The wheels on The Bus: This is a stat you won't see often. It might be a one-timer, and one you shouldn't expect to see again.

Jerome Bettis – 5 carries, 1 yard, 3 touchdowns.

No, I didn't make a typo. Those were his stats.

The future Hall of Famer was earmarked as a short yardage guy to kick off the season, used behind Duce Staley who was the feature back, and he did exactly what was asked of him.

"Hey, I'll take it," said Bettis. "It's one of those things when you are in a role, you have to do what they ask you to do. If they want me to come in and stick it in (the endzone), I have to come in and stick it in the end zone. I would like to be utilized more. Make no mistake about it. But it is what it is. When they need me, I go."

Staley, playing in his first Steelers game, handled the majority of the load, carrying the ball 24 times for 91 yards.

"They both did a great job," said quarterback Tommy Maddox. "Duce ran hard. He came back into the huddle one time and we were telling him to go quick. There were a couple times where they felt that they had him roughed up and he got an extra couple of yards. It was great to see him feeling good and getting off to a great start like that. It is great to see Jerome Bettis get in there on the goal line and pound it in. He is a battering ram coming out there. It worked out very well." 

Speak up: Despite the win, the defense was still hard on themselves after giving up two big touchdowns to the Raiders, one a 58-yard pass, the other a 38-yard pass.

"We still have a lot of work to do," said linebacker Joey Porter. "Just the mental lapses and then those two touchdowns happen. I look at that as a mental lapse. It's third and 18 and fourth down and 14 or something. We have to get off the field, plain and simple. I don't care if you have to sit back and just play the pylons. You have to keep the ball in front of you and just come up and make the tackle. It's something to learn from. As long as we came away with the victory, so it gives us some good work to work on."