Titans-Steelers Playoff Game Ranks Second to One

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NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Topping the Music City Miracle on a list of most memorable playoff wins in Titans history is impossible at this point.

But there's a solid No.2 in my book, and it took place on this date – January 11 – exactly 13 years ago, when the Titans beat the Steelers 34-31 in overtime an AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Adelphia Coliseum.

Here's a trip down memory lane:

**

The setup**

After a 1-4 start to the season, the Titans won 10 of 11 games to close out the year, and win the AFC South.

The Steelers, coached by Bill Cowher and quarterbacked by Tommy Maddox, finished the regular season with a 10-5-1 mark. The Steelers headed to town with plenty of momentum after winning a wild game against the Browns in the

first round of the playoffs a week earlier.

The Titans beat the Steelers 31-23 during the regular season.

The buildup

Looking to add an extra piece of motivation leading up to the game, Titans coach Jeff Fisher turned off the lights during a meeting at the team hotel Friday night and showed clips from Remember the Titans.

When the lights came back on, there was Herman Boone, the high school coach who was the inspiration for the movie. Boone, an honorary captain, watched the game from the Titans sideline in a leather jacket and cowboy hat.

"He told us we were going to win because we were Titans," defensive tackle John Thornton said. "He told us the game was going to be close, we were going to trade scores and we were going to win at the end and that is how it happened. It's funny."

What happened

The Titans jumped ahead 14-0, but lost the lead and trailed 20-14 in the third quarter.

Quarterback Steve McNair led a rally, completing 27 of 44 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns. He was forced to miss two plays in the fourth quarter after having a chunk of skin ripped off the top of his thumb on his throwing hand. The Titans lost running back Eddie George in the first quarter because of a concussion.

Things got crazy when the teams went to overtime, tied at 31-all.

After the Titans won the coin toss, McNair guided the Titans to the Pittsburgh 13-yard line. Three kicks and a mess of fireworks later, Titans kicker Joe Nedney won the game on a 26-yard field goal.

It wasn't that simple, though.

In one of the classic finishes in franchise history, Joe Nedney's game-winning field goal defeats Pittsburgh in a 2002 AFC Divisional playoff game in Nashville. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

Nedney's first field goal attempt prompted fireworks after it sailed through uprights, but it didn't count because the Steelers called a timeout. Nedney missed his next kick, but Steelers cornerback Dewayne Washington was called for running into the kicker.

Nedney made the game-winner after that, setting off a wild celebration. He'd missed a potential game-winner at the end of regulation. The kick sent the Titans to the AFC Championship the following week in Oakland. Many of the Steelers felt the running into the kicker should not have been called.

The reaction

• "The dream that I had wasn't quite like what happened," Nedney said. "It ended right, but it was crazy."

• "The only thing that matters is the ref took the game from us, plain and simple," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said. "He should lose his job for that."

• "Destiny?" Titans receiver Derrick Mason asked, repeating the last word of a question, in the locker room afterward. "I don't know, but I know I have a bunch of great guys in this locker room, guys that are not going to quit no matter what."

What happened next

The Titans lost 41-24 to the Raiders in the AFC Championship Game in Oakland.

The Raiders advanced to Super Bowl XXXVII, but lost to the Buccaneers. * *

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