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The 2005 Season in Pictures
Chris Mannix
February 15, 2006
Led by a fiery young quarterback and that Steelers staple, great D, upstart Pittsburgh rallied down the stretch to claim a playoff berth
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February 15, 2006

The 2005 Season In Pictures

Led by a fiery young quarterback and that Steelers staple, great D, upstart Pittsburgh rallied down the stretch to claim a playoff berth

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GAME 1
STEELERS 34, TITANS 7
SEPTEMBER 11 AT PITTSBURGH
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 218 PASSING YARDS, 2 TOUCHDOWN PASSES; PARKER: 161 RUSHING YARDS
Playing in his first regular-season game, TE Heath Miller got his professional career off to a rousing start with this first-quarter touchdown reception--his first of six TD catches in the season.

GAME 2
STEELERS 27, TEXANS 7
SEPTEMBER 18 AT HOUSTON
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 254 PASSING YARDS, 2 TOUCHDOWN PASSES; PARKER: 111 RUSHING YARDS
In a homage to the days of the Steel Curtain, the Pittsburgh D rang up eight sacks of Texans QB David Carr, including this high-stepping fourth-quarter one by LB Troy Polamalu.

GAME 3
PATRIOTS 23, STEELERS 20
SEPTEMBER 25 AT PITTSBURGH
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 216 PASSING YARDS, 2 TOUCHDOWN PASSES; PARKER: 55 RUSHING YARDS
The winning streak was short-lived; the Steelers were upended--literally, in the case of LB Larry Foote--by New England, as Tom Brady torched the defense for 372 yards.

GAME 4
STEELERS 24, CHARGERS 22
OCTOBER 10 AT SAN DIEGO
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 225 PASSING YARDS, 1 TOUCHDOWN PASS; BETTIS: 54 RUSHING YARDS
Pittsburgh's ninth straight road victory was marred by a knee injury to Ben Roethlisberger on the game's final drive. Jeff Reed booted a 40-yard field goal with six seconds left to seal the win.

GAME 5
JAGUARS 23, STEELERS 17
OCTOBER 16 AT PITTSBURGH
GAME STATS: MADDOX: 154 PASSING YARDS, 1 TOUCHDOWN PASS; PARKER: 55 RUSHING YARDS
In his first start since losing the job to Ben Roethlisberger in '04, Tommy Maddox (left) threw three interceptions, including one in OT that Rashean Mathis returned for the game-winning TD.

GAME 6
STEELERS 27, BENGALS 13
OCTOBER 23 AT CINCINNATI
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 93 PASSING YARDS, 2 TOUCHDOWN PASSES; PARKER: 131 RUSHING YARDS
The Steelers' defense terrorized Carson Palmer all day, including this sack by defensive end Travis Kirschke, forcing the Bengals' Pro Bowler into throwing two costly interceptions.

Flashback

WINNING THE OLD FASHIONED WAY

Passing's pretty, but the Steelers showed the Bengals that offense starts from the ground up

The moment of truth in the 2005 AFC North race came on Oct. 23, midway through the first half of the game between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium. The Steelers, trailing the Bengals by 1� games in the division standings, were lucky to be losing by only 3-0. Cincinnati receiver Chris Henry had dropped a pass in the end zone, and Shayne Graham later missed a 30-yard field goal.

With 2:36 left in the first quarter Pittsburgh went to work at its 40-yard line. Running back Willie Parker bulled for four, one and six yards, then wideout Hines Ward ran a reverse for four. " Steelers football," Jerome Bettis, who came off the bench to spell Parker, would say later.

With Bettis in the backfield, it was time for the Bengals to make a stand. Pittsburgh blew right through them. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit tight end Heath Miller on a crossing route for 20 yards. Then, boom! Bettis for three behind left tackle Marvel Smith. Bam! Bettis for 10 past the block of center Jeff Hartings. Bang! Bettis for five behind left guard Alan Faneca. On second-and-goal on the two everyone in the stadium knew who would get the ball next. So what did offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt call? Play-action to Bettis, the lone setback, and a crossing pattern for Miller through the back of the end zone. "Give me a good fake on this one, JB," Roethlisberger said to Bettis as they broke the huddle. Bettis sold it, and Roethlisberger floated an easy rainbow to an uncovered Miller. Touchdown.

Though the score came on a pass, the forward thrust of the Cincinnati defense underscored the value of Bettis--and the respect the Pittsburgh ground game commands from opponents. Said Whisenhunt, "You saw what the Bengals had to do because [ Bettis] was in there. People see the romance of throwing the ball 40 times a game, but running the ball, that's what football was meant to be."--Peter King

Reprinted from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Oct. 31, 2005

GAME 7
STEELERS 20, RAVENS 19
OCTOBER 31 AT PITTSBURGH
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 177 PASSING YARDS, 2 TOUCHDOWN PASSES; PARKER: 63 RUSHING YARDS
WR Hines Ward showed why he is the Steelers' alltime receptions leader with this acrobatic catch over Chris McAlister. Jeff Reed's 37-yard field goal iced the Monday-night victory.

GAME 8
STEELERS 20, PACKERS 10
NOVEMBER 6 AT GREEN BAY
GAME STATS: BATCH: 65 PASSING YARDS, 0 TOUCHDOWN PASSES; STALEY: 76 RUSHING YARDS
Filling in for injured RBs Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis, Duce Staley, in only his second game of '05, pounded out 85 total yards and one TD to give Pittsburgh its first win at Lambeau in 22 years.

GAME 9
STEELERS 34, BROWNS 21
NOVEMBER 13 AT PITTSBURGH
GAME STATS: BATCH: 150 PASSING YARDS, 0 TOUCHDOWN PASSES; STALEY: 64 RUSHING YARDS
QB Charlie Batch hadn't started a game since '01, when he was 0-9 with Detroit. He won his second straight against Cleveland, scoring on a one-yard run before going out with a hand injury.

GAME 10
RAVENS 16, STEELERS 13
NOVEMBER 20 AT BALTIMORE
GAME STATS: MADDOX: 230 PASSING YARDS, 1 TOUCHDOWN PASS; PARKER: 59 RUSHING YARDS
Demoted to third string, QB Tommy Maddox struggled to get the Steelers into the end zone all day. Pittsburgh's overtime loss ended their team-record 11-game road winning streak.

GAME 11
COLTS 26, STEELERS 7
NOVEMBER 28 AT INDIANAPOLIS
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 133 PASSING YARDS, 1 TOUCHDOWN PASS; PARKER: 43 RUSHING YARDS
Top draft pick Heath Miller caught 39 passes as a rookie but couldn't lead the Steelers past a Colts defense that held Pittsburgh to a meager 197 yards of total offense.

GAME 12
BENGALS 38, STEELERS 31
DECEMBER 4 AT PITTSBURGH
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 386 PASSING YARDS, 3 TOUCHDOWN PASSES; PARKER: 71 RUSHING YARDS
Cedrick Wilson's season-high four catches weren't enough to stop the Steelers' losing streak as Pittsburgh dropped its third straight for the first time since '03.

GAME 13
STEELERS 21, BEARS 9
DECEMBER 11 AT CHICAGO
GAME STATS: ROETHLISBERGER: 173 PASSING YARDS, 1 TOUCHDOWN PASS; BETTIS: 101 RUSHING YARDS
The Bears' defense swallowed WR Antwaan Randle El on this play, but Chicago couldn't stop Jerome Bettis, who helped the Steelers control the clock for more than 37 minutes in the snow.

Flashback

HELLO MUDDER, HELLO, VICTORY

If the Steelers somehow go on from here, run the table and grab that sixth AFC seed, Jerome Bettis should get a quadruple playoff share. What he did on the chewed-up winter pitch at Heinz Field on Dec. 11, with a quasi-blizzard making it hard to see across the field for two quarters, will go down as one of the 10 best games of his Canton-worthy career. The stats: 17 carries, 101 yards, two rushing touchdowns--against the best defense in football, a unit that had allowed four rushing touchdowns in its first 12 games. He proved himself to be the Mariano Rivera of football in the second half. Sixteen carries, 100 yards. And the Bears knew exactly what was coming.

When it was over and the Steelers had won 21-9, Bettis limped off the field and into the Pittsburgh locker room, his uniform so muddy, grass-stained and laden with white chalk you could hardly read the BETTIS above the 36 on his back. Bill Cowher greeted him near the doorway with a bear hug and an "I love you!" Owner Dan Rooney took one look at him and said, "You look like a throwback."

"Hey, mudder!" Hines Ward yelled at Bettis.

One memorable mudder gallop: Midway through the third quarter, with a second-and-goal at the Chicago five, Bettis shot through the hole between right guard Kendall Simmons and tackle Max Starks. Safety Mike Green bounced off him at the four, and here came the new Bear block of granite. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher met Bettis head-on at the three, and Bettis carried Urlacher over the goal line.

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