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100 Things Steelers Fans Should Know

Looking Back: Steelers And Falcons Play A Classic At Heinz Field In 2002


This summer, a revised edition with new chapters and updated stats, dedicated to the Black and Gold book will be coming out in stores entitled “100 Things Every Steelers Fan Should Know Before They Die.”

The book, which is being published by Triumph Books, will be available in all major book stores and will retail for $14.95. It is currently available for pre-order through Amazon and Borders, and is set to arrive in stores early September.

Through the reminder of the summer, we’ll give Steelers Gab readers a sneak peek of some chapters of the book. Today we highlight Chapter 85, entitled “Maddox and Vick 2003 Wild West Shootout at Heinz” – Enjoy!

The 2002 season was one of transition for the Steelers. The team had reached the AFC Title game the season before, but fell short of their goal of playing in the Super Bowl after a 24-17 upset loss to the heavy underdog New England Patriots. The 02 season started slowly, as the team fell to the champion Pats on a Monday night to start the year 30-14, then the following week on a Sunday night were carved up by Rich Gannon and the Raiders at home 30-17.

Part of the issue was the play at quarterback. Head coach Bill Cowher had lost confidence in starter Kordell Stewart, who had played so well a season before, but was unable to duplicate that at the start of the 02 season. In week three vs. Cleveland at home the team was stale again, and trailed late 13-6. Cowher made a bold move, benching Stewart for former Arena League QB and former first-round bust Tommy Maddox, who of course being the backup QB was the apple of every fans eye.

The move paid off, as Maddox lead the team to a score to tie the game, then in OT was able to put a drive together to lead the team to a 16-13 much needed win. It was evident that whatever magic Maddox had the offense responded to, and the talk of the league quickly turned to how this former XFL’er was tearing up the league.

The Steelers season turned around, as they went on a four-game winning streak to turn a 1-3 start into a 5-3 mark heading into an early November game at home against Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons. What Steeler fans who went to Heinz Field that day didn’t know was what a show they were in for as Vick and Maddox lit the Pittsburgh sky with footballs and points in a game that would go down as one of the most memorable in Steeler history.

The game didn’t start out as a barn burner, as the Steelers led just 3-0 after the first quarter. That’s when things quickly got going. First it was the Falcons with a score as Vick hit Shawn Jefferson with a 43-yard score to make it 7-3 Falcons before two minutes had even passed in the second quarter. The Steelers came right back, as Maddox hit Plaxico Burress for a 33-yard score to make it 10-7, and the fireworks had truly begun.

Maddox less than two minutes later had the ball again, and found Hines Ward from five yards out to extend the Steeler lead to 17-7 with 7:15 left in the half. That’s how the half would end, and things seemed to be headed clearly in the favor of the Steelers. The first half numbers were staggering. The Steelers had already 15 first downs and 270 yards, with Maddox throwing for 188 yards and two scores.

Atlanta wouldn’t go down easily, as Warrick Dunn put on a show in the second half. It started with him going for a score from 59 yards out to make it 17-14. But Maddox, again playing the gunslinger, found Burress again, this time from 62 yards out to put the Steelers back out in front 23-14 after the extra point was blocked.

Don’t forget, order the book through Amazon and Borders.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

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