Joe Greene speaks: "I feel like we've been cheated. You saw a great game out there today, but it turned into a 'yes, but' game. That's the sad thing about it. People will be saying, 'Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers won, but...' "
What's this, a losers' dressing room? You played a great game, man. You beat the Houston Oilers 27-13 for the AFC championship, and you held Earl Campbell to 15 yards on 17 carries, and now you're in Super Bowl XIV. Stop sulking. Hey, kid, get that man a Coke!
Eyes downcast, a slow sad smile on his face, Joe Greene peels off his soaking jersey.
"Why are you so sad?"
"I'll get happy later," Greene says. "I don't want to dwell on it, but it's the mood I'm in. I spoke to Pastorini after the game.... He wished us well."
"It's that call that's got you down, right?"
Greene nods. "A tough call, a tough, tough call," he says. "I felt bad for Houston. I didn't see the play, but I was hoping it was a correct call. I can't take any satisfaction in that call. You have 22 players out there waiting for a decision to be made, and you don't get it. That's all you need, a decision, but where was it?"
Where indeed? One play cast a shadow on a very professional Steeler victory. As Lynn Swann said, "It's unfortunate when something happens to mar a game like this."
What happened was that an official froze on a play that could have given the Oilers a touchdown and tied the score at 17-17 in the dying moments of the third quarter. After 38� minutes the Steelers were up 17-10, and Pittsburgh's Craig Colquitt had just gotten off the longest punt of his pro career—66 yards. The Oilers' kick returner, Richard Ellender, torn by indecision, had slapped the ball out of bounds on his own 14, and all those Steeler fans in Three Rivers Stadium waved their Terrible Towels and smiled at each other because they knew what was coming. This is where the Steelers crush the life out of people and put the game away. How many times had they seen it?
But the Oilers are a strange kind of team. You can't chart them. They play with the emotional throttle to the floor, from a high pain threshold. They had gained only 116 yards, total, all day, but now they put together an 80-yard drive and had a first-and-goal at the six.