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Never play for a worldwide epidemic that caused an outbreak within a bitter divisional rival?
Unprecedented. Unique. Bizarre.
And yet, with a brand that was the story of the Pittsburgh Steelers ’games on Thanksgiving Day.
The first scheduled NFL match to be played at Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh has been postponed as the Baltimore Ravens organization conducted positive coronavirus tests. So while Heinz Field had to sit empty on Thursday night, all Steelers fans could take advantage of it, while the festive period was reminiscent of the Thanksgiving days of the last Steelers.
There aren’t too many positive memories – but there are unforgettable moments and circumstances that range from fun to sad.
The Steelers won only two of Turkey Day’s eight performances, the worst victory rate among NFL teams that played four games. Although the Steelers won in 1950 and 2016, there was something about many defeats that highlighted them:
The tail never falls
The Thanksgiving coin-flip call from Jerome Bettis, Futer Hall of Famer, failed with it being (supposedly) the second choice.
The 1998 Silverdome game is notable for reasons that have little to do with the Detroit Lions ’19-16 victory.
“So many years later,” Charlie Batch said this week, “it’s really cool to say I was part of history.”
A native of Homestead who has been the Steelers safety quarterback for 11 seasons, Batch was a rookie novice before the Lions 22 Thanksgivings. Batch doesn’t remember the game because he was against his hometown team, and that’s not why he was the first game-winning drive as a professional QB.
Batch’s most vivid memory on November 26, 1998 was the overtime coinage.
“All I knew,” Batch said, “was that our two captains went out there, and Robert Porcher returned to the sideline, and he was like, ‘I don’t know what the hell happened now, but we have the ball.’ “
Seven games later, the Lions won the game. That wouldn’t have happened if referee Phil Luckett hadn’t insisted that Jerome Bettis, the Steelers captain, call him “upside down” while the future Famer Hall retains his “tail”.
“(Bettis) called it a‘ head tail ’. He called “heads” first. Luckett later told Referee.com.
After the game, Bettis told reporters, “I didn’t say,‘ head-to-tail ’, it’s a bold-faced lie. “
Batch will be Bettis’ teammate for five seasons. Friends often talk about that day.
“I’m saying, Jerome, it’s been 18 years,” Batch said. – ‘Can you finally admit that you said headlines?’ And just laugh. – I didn’t say the tail; I said tail. So to this day, 22 years later, he still clings to this story.
The loss that year was devastating for the Steelers, triggering a season-ending five-game defeat series that fell from 7-4 to 7-9.
But as a winning QB that day, Batch can laugh at it.
“It was the last (NFL) game the coin could ever call to flip a coin in the air,” Batch said, noting a change in NFL rules that required calls before throwing. “At least I can always tell this great story.”
Tomlin’s (nearby) way
Mike Tomlin calls his actions during Thanksgiving 2013 “embarrassing, unforgivable (and) illegal”.
The Steelers coach’s “personal blunder” occurred when Ravens player Jacoby Jones appeared on the way to the touchdown in a third quarter kick. But Jones struggled after being forced to cut a little further in because Tomlin’s right leg was on the playing field as he watched the M&T Bank Stadium video board while looking in the other direction.
Baltimore would win the game, 22-20, but there was a turmoil swirling in the NFL circles over the festive weekend. Did Tomlin, with the intention of helping the Steelers, deliberately change Jones’ path?
Tomlin insisted that it was all unintentional to be caught just at the moment of watching the Jumbotron. Tomlin also said he would accept any punishment, and that ended up coming from the NFL in the form of a $ 100,000 fine.
In Pittsburgh, it was referred to as “Thanksgiving Daily Massacre”. The half-roasted turkeys were still in the furnaces of Western Pennsylvania, at the point when Turkey Day was being played in Detroit in 1983, it all just settled when the lions reached a 45-3 victory on their first four estates.
The 42-point defeat was the Steelers ’worst in 36 years and remains the most severe road loss in the team’s history. Cliff Stoudt and Mark Malone combined for five interceptions.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Chuck Noll, coach of the Steelers, said he considered what the turning point was.
“I decided it was the opening kick,” he stammered.
The first two Thanksgiving games featuring the founded Art Rooney Sr. franchise were real turkeys. He first fought in 1939 with an unparalleled winning team. The following year, participants entered with an overall record of 2-15-2. Rooney’s team managed both touches during both matches.
None were won by the Steelers – or the “Pirates” as they were known back in 1939. But the most interesting aspect of this Thanksgiving is that they were all played on November 23, 1939, and November 28, 1940. next the Thanksgiving. But there was considerable debate about whether any of them were played the Thanksgiving.
The then president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, referred to the boom in the retail economy in the summer of 1939 when he stated that Thanksgiving would collide weekly at the traditional November-Thursday-November venue occupied for eight decades. But much of the country has rejected the whimsical statement. Republican-led states in particular have rejected Roosevelt’s Democratic wishes.
It meant two Thanksgiving, depending on where you lived. So the fact that the Steelers / Pirates played the Philadelphia Eagles in the state on both Thanksgiving was no accident: different Thanksgiving in different states complicated the scheduling of events when people crossed state lines.
The 1939 meeting of the Pirates – Eagles was at the “democratic” Thanksgiving, but when the Steelers and the Eagles met the following year, it was the “Republican” Thanksgiving.
This year, the Steelers ’“ Thanksgiving game ”will only take place (at least) three days after Thanksgiving.
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Sport | Steelers / NFL