O'Donnell gets 3 yards and then some Steelers QB puts to rest reminder of '95 failure

AFC Notebook

January 15, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

PITTSBURGH -- There's a sign that hangs from Three Rivers Stadium, one that has annoyed Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell all season. It reads: just three more yards.

That's where the Steelers' Super Bowl hopes ended last year, on the opponent's 3-yard line in a 17-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship.

But yesterday, O'Donnell got some redemption, completing 25 of 41 passes for 205 yards, including a 37-yard pass to Ernie Mills that set up the winning touchdown in the Steelers' 20-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC title.

"It's there every home game," said O'Donnell, a former Maryland quarterback. "I have to talk to that guy about taking that down now. I look at it and I never forget. It's all we heard about."

The pass to Mills, which put the Steelers on the Colts' 1, was O'Donnell's longest of the game.

"I just asked Ernie if he could beat him, and he said yes," said O'Donnell. "I told him I'd put it there, so go for it."

Special delivery

Steelers running back Erric Pegram's wife gave birth to a girl (Taylor) during a Pittsburgh drive in the second quarter.

"I asked her if I should play and she said 'of course you should play,' " said Pegram. "I wanted to play, but I wanted to do what was right at the same time. She told me to go play the game and win it for her. I found out at halftime she gave birth. I was like 'well, I got a baby girl, now I need a victory.' "

Second time the charm

After Mills' catch, it took running back Bam Morris two attempts to get into the end zone.

After the first failed attempt, Morris had a conversation with lead blocker John L. Williams.

"It was second-and-one and John looked at me and I said, 'I'm going in this time.' He said 'let's do whatever it takes. We met in the hole.' There was a collision and I just kept pumping my feet like I was running in water and I got it."

Underrated no longer

The Colts won't sneak up on anybody next season.

"We were one of the most underrated teams to ever go into an AFC championship, and I have nothing but high respect for everyone in this locker room," said Colts defensive lineman Tony Siragusa. "I think this team now knows what they have to do and how to prepare for the big game. We'll build on this for next year."

Legendary Don Joyce

The Steelers had Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris out for the coin toss, while the Colts had Don Joyce.

Don Joyce?

Most of the old Colts won't attend any Indianapolis events.

"Well, I'm a scout for the team," said Joyce, who played for Baltimore in the 1950s.

Third-and-short

Three failures on third-and-one plays hurt the Colts yesterday:

* First quarter, Steelers' 15: Ray Seals disrupts blocking; Lamont Warren loses 2 yards. Result: field goal.

* Third quarter, Steelers' 28: Kevin Greene stops Warren from turning corner; play loses 2. Result: missed field-goal try.

* Fourth quarter, Colts' 31: Willie Williams catches Warren from behind, stopping play for no gain. Result: punt.

Grounded

Colts running backs Zack Crockett and Lamont Warren, filling in for injured starters Roosevelt Potts and Marshall Faulk, were up and down during the playoffs. How they fared in three playoff games with carries, yards rushing and rushing touchdowns:

Opponent ........ Crockett ............. Warren

Chargers ........ 13-147-2 ............. 10-5-0

Chiefs .......... 6-12-0 ............... 20-76-0

Steelers ........ 1-2-0 ................ 15-53-0

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