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Got It!
Austin Murphy
January 15, 1996
A controversial call and a wham-Bam ground game helped Pittsburgh advance to the conference title game again
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January 15, 1996

Got It!

A controversial call and a wham-Bam ground game helped Pittsburgh advance to the conference title game again

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The main object of Kelly's anger was a blown call by back judge Scott Steenson, who ruled that Pittsburgh wideout Ernie Mills scored a touchdown on a 10-yard pass early in the second quarter. On that play Mills made a spectacular catch in the back of the end zone but got only one foot inbounds. Steenson thought Mills had been forced out by strong safety Kurt Schulz; replays clearly showed that Mills was only lightly touched and would never have gotten his right foot inbounds. But the play stood, giving the Steelers a 14-0 lead. Said the disgusted Kelly, "Stevie Wonder could've seen that one."

On Pittsburgh's next possession after Mills's controversial score, Steeler rookie Kordell (Slash) Stewart, who has lined up at quarterback, running back and receiver this season, took a shotgun snap on fourth-and-12 and quick-kicked, for crying out loud. This week he brings back the drop-kick.

Slash is merely the gaudiest manifestation of an offense that has become less predictable and more fun this season. Several things happened to separate the Steelers from their customary smash-mouth ways, including the loss of free-agent tight end Eric Green, who signed with the Miami Dolphins in the off-season. Green's departure ensured that O'Donnell would be throwing more to his wide receivers. Anticipating terrific things from Morris, who had rushed for 836 yards as a rookie, Pittsburgh traded Barry Foster to the Carolina Panthers in May. Then Morris showed up for training camp looking like Fat Albert.

Morris believes a falloff would have been inevitable even if he hadn't reported to camp as a tub of guts. "Coming into this year, everybody was very high on me, so there's only one way to go from there," he says. "We started 3-4, and everybody was looking for a scapegoat, and it was me. Fine. Throw it all on my back. I've shown I can carry it." And how.

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