|Another Controversial Playoff Finish|
Sunday, Jan. 11, 4:30 PM ET
At: The Coliseum
Tennessee Titans kicker Joe Nedney missed a field goal attempt from 48 yards on the final play of regulation, and then again from 31 yards in overtime. But a running-into-the-kicker penalty on cornerback Dewayne Washington gave him a third chance, which he took advantage of by making a 26-yarder 2:15 into overtime, giving the Titans a 34-31 playoff victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Steelers head coach Bill Cowher ran across the field and confronted referee Ron Blum after the winning kick. Cowher claimed he called a timeout before the kick, but when asked about it after the game, Blum said, "one of my co-officials said that the request came after the ball was snapped."
Cowher was also upset about the call that gave Nedney another shot at the game winner. "For a game to be decided on that call is ludicrous," said the emotional head coach. "A game can't be decided because a kicker takes two steps and we have someone slide into him."
Tennessee looked like they were going to run away with this game early, opening up a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, but two second-quarter turnovers led to 10 points and helped the Steelers get back in the game. A 39-yard field goal by Jeff Reed made the score 14-13 at halftime.
Tennessee opened the second half with an Eddie George fumble, his second of the game, which led to a 31-yard Amos Zereoue run for a touchdown and the Steelers first lead of the game. A 39-yard pass from Steve McNair to Frank Wycheck set the Titans up at the Steelers 4-yard line before the pair connected again for a seven-yard touchdown, regaining the lead.
A two-yard touchdown pass from McNair to Erron Kinney later in the third gave Tennessee a 28-20 lead.
In the fourth quarter, it appeared that Antwaan Randle El had scored on a 64-yard punt return, but Pittsburgh was flagged for an illegal block, nullifying the return. Starting at his own 35-yard line, Tommy Maddox quickly marched the Steelers down the field and connected with Hines Ward for a 21-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion, a pass from Ward to Plaxico Burress, was converted, tying the game at 28. The teams traded field goals, making the score 31-31 and setting up the extra period.
The Tennessee Titans will advance to play the winner of the Oakland Raiders-New York Jets contest on Sunday.