The Titans and the Steelers had met earlier in that season in Nashville and the Titans had come away with a 31-23 win. The Titans took a 31-7 lead in the 4th quarter in that game, and the Steelers came roaring back with Kordell Stewart at quarterback after Keith Bulluck had knocked Tommy Maddox out of the game with a really scary hit.
As exciting as that game was, the playoff game was even better. We had great seats, sitting on the last row of the loge of the upper deck. The atmosphere was great in The Coliseum that night. (Side note: Why didn't they name the field LP Coliseum?) There was a Steeler fan sitting just down and to the left of us with a Plaxico Burress jersey on. There was a Titans fan sitting 3 or 4 rows up in the upper deck that stood up and yelled "PLAXICO SUCKS!" about every ten minutes. He and his friends cracked up every time.
The Titans jumped out to another early lead in the playoff game with two first quarter touchdown runs, one from Steve McNair and one from Eddie George. The second quarter was all Steelers. Hines Ward caught a 8 yard touchdown pass from Maddox, and Jeff Reed kicked 2 field goals to make the score 14-13 at halftime.
The Titans got the ball to start the second half, but a rare fumble from Eddie on the first play from scrimmage gave the Steelers the ball at the Titans' 31 yard line. Amos Zereoue, there's a name you hadn't thought about in a few years, took the ball 31 yards into the end zone on the Steelers' first play to give them a 20-14 lead.
In typical McNair fashion, he lead the Titans to a touchdown on the ensuing drive. You could always count on McNair to make a huge play when the other team was gaining the momentum. Frank Wycheck had a 39 yard reception and the 7 yard touchdown reception on that drive.
The Titans forced the Steelers 3 and out on the next drive, and McNair led the Titans right back down the field on the next drive for another touchdown to take a 28-20 lead.
The score would stay 28-20 until just over 10 minutes in the 4th quarter when Maddox found Ward in the end zone for a touchdown. The Steelers went for two and converted on a pass from Ward to Burress to tie the game.
McNair, who I bragged about just three paragraphs ago, gave the ball right back to the Steelers on the first play of the next drive when he was picked off by former Alabama star Deshea Townesend. The Titans defense held and forced the Steelrs to kick another field goal.
John Simon returned the ensuing kickoff 38 yards to give the Titans great field position. McNair atoned for his mistake on the previous drive by getting the Titans in position for Joe Nedney to kick a 42 yard field goal to tie the game.
McNair got the Titans in position to take a shot at a game winning field goal at the end of regulation, but Nedney would miss the 48 yard attempt wide right.
As fun and crazy as the game was in regulation, it got even better in overtime. The Titans won the toss and the place went nuts. Oddly enough, the hero in this game was Justin McCareins, who could catch back then, had two huge receptions (31, 22) to set up another field goal attempt for Nedney.
That was when it really got fun. The Steelers pulled the timeout right before the snap play on the first attempt. Nedney made that field goal, the fireworks went off at the stadium, but none of it counted because the Steelers had called timeout. Nedney lined up to kick the field goal again and missed it wide right. The crowd was silent for a moment as the field goal sailed right, but then there was a roar because Dewayne Washington had run into Nedney and the ref had thrown the flag. How much Washington actually ran into Nedney is questionable, but Joe must have taken some acting classes in college because it looked very convincing.
"He got a pretty good hit on me," Nedney said grinning after the game. "But I think when I'm done playing ball, I might try acting."
Nedney nailed the next kick and sent the Titans back to the AFC Championship game. The best part for us came on the walk down after the game. Of course everyone was going nuts because of the win, and we started talking about who we wanted the Titans to play in the Championship game. This game took place on a Saturday night. The other Divisonal Round game was between the Jets and Raiders the following night. If the Raiders won, which they did, the Championship game would be in Oakland, but if the Jets won the Titans would have hosted the game. Some of us started chanting J-E-T-S JETS, JETS, JETS on the walk down. One guy literally screamed that at the top of his lungs all the way down the ramp, and for any of you that have been to LP Field and sat in the upper deck, you know that it is a very long walk down the ramps.