Packers, Steelers Seize the Day: Pittsburgh Holds off Kelly, Bills

By Snider, Rick | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 7, 1996 | Go to article overview

Packers, Steelers Seize the Day: Pittsburgh Holds off Kelly, Bills


Snider, Rick, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers seemed happier to be out of the frigid cold than beating the Buffalo Bills. After avoiding a late playoff collapse for the second straight year, the Steelers saw their 40-21 victory yesterday before 59,072 at Three Rivers Stadium as merely the first step to reaching the Super Bowl.

"We're not popping bottles and blowing balloons," said Steelers linebacker Kevin Greene. "We have an important game next week."

Pittsburgh (12-5) meets the winner of today's Kansas City-Indianapolis game in the AFC Conference Championship and will either travel to Kansas City or host Indianapolis.

Fullback John L. Williams said the win over the Bills was good, but there's still more work to be done.

"This team has lots of unfinished business to take care of," he said. "We'll save the celebrating for when we really earn something, and we all know what that is."

The Steelers have spent the entire season trying to erase last year's disappointment after falling short to San Diego in the AFC title game on a failed fourth-and-goal pass from the 3. The Steelers faithful hung banners reading, "3 More Yards" while imploring the team to make the Super Bowl. Anything less than the conference finals would have been considered a failure.

"Here we come again," said Steelers quarterback Neil O'Donnell, who was 19-for-35 for 262 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions yesterday. "We keep knocking on the door, and we'll eventually knock it down."

O'Donnell said last year's playoff experience, though unpleasant, has made the team closer.

"This year, our team's a lot more of a team and not offense and defense," he said. "Last year, at times, we weren't that close."

It took a total team effort to beat AFC East Champion Buffalo (11-6), which had won 13 straight AFC playoff games since 1990. The Bills, who seemed to lack a spark without flu-stricken defensive end Bruce Smith, quickly fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter. They rebounded in the second half to score 14 unanswered points, closing the score to 26-21. It wasn't until Pittsburgh intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter that the victory was sealed.

"We certainly made it interesting," said Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher. "You guys have seen Buffalo in the playoffs, and there's no lead that's safe. I don't think anything needed to be said [to the players]."

Pittsburgh mixed its running and passing games well for a combined 409 yards. The Steelers relied on Bam Morris (106 yards rushing) and running back Erric Pegram (33 yards) during their first two drives and late in the game when Morris scored his two touchdowns while utilizing the passing game in between. …

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