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clevestinks
01-06-2006, 09:21 AM
You know, the special type; a player who plays the game hard, who succeeds at a legendary clip, who has an admirable work ethic, who is community-oriented, who defines a city, and perhaps, defines a sport.

All of the above describes Bettis.

Unless something totally unexpected happens, this is Bettis' final season in the NFL. The legacy he leaves behind, especially in Pittsburgh, will be one for the ages.

Jerome Bettis is Steelers football.

The future Hall of Famer had a fitting likely finale in Pittsburgh. Bettis, the NFL's fifth all-time leading rusher, plowed through Detroit Sunday for three touchdowns as Pittsburgh clinched a spot in the tournament, outlasting the Lions 35-21. The wonderful Steelers fans gave Bettis several thunderous ovations. Credit Willie Parker for volunteering to give Bettis the start at running back to get the warm and throaty reception during the pre-game introductions.

This game actually wasn't so easy early for the Steelers, as Joey Harrington looked sharp and relaxed while slinging the ball all over the field. At 14-14, the Lions defense sacked Big Ben Roethlisberger, and forced Pittsburgh to punt. Returner Eddie Drummond played hot potato with the football, coughing it up and giving Pittsburgh excellent field position. Parker had two electric runs before giving way to The Bus at the goal line for one of his scores.

Let's give tremendous credit to Bill Cowher's team for turning its season around after the Baltimore/Indy/Cincy stretch.

It's somewhat fitting that Bettis will start his final quest for his elusive Super Bowl ring against a rival team from the AFC North, the last team that actually beat the Steelers.

As the AFC's sixth seed, the Steelers can try to get revenge against the Bengals for the loss they suffered in Pittsburgh. The Bengals are the third seed in the AFC after the Patriots lost to Miami.

I cannot wait for this game between two rivals who split the season series.

Cincy will host Pittsburgh Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET. While I can understand and appreciate how Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wanted to yank Carson Palmer and his sore groin out of Sunday's in Kansas City, he cannot be happy with the awful looking loss, and with how his defense played as Larry Johnson and company knocked the Bengals silly in a 37-3 blowout.

Now the Bengals, playing at home, will have a legit chance to beat Pittsburgh. Assuming Palmer will be healthy, you can certainly throw the ball on the Steelers defensive backs.

But you have to wonder about the Bengals defense stopping Parker and Bettis, who is going to be very motivated in his final season. The Super Bowl is being played in Bettis' hometown of Detroit.


Steelers fans will miss Jerome Bettis if this is in fact his last season. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Pittsburgh enters the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. You also have to worry about Cincy's mindset, losing two straight games in frustrating fashion to end an otherwise stellar season.

It's the final playoff ride for the Bus on the road to the Super Bowl. It's never likely that a sixth seed wins three playoff games away from home. But you can be sure that no team wants to see the Bus and the Steelers drive up to their stadium for Bettis' final tour

Prosdo
01-06-2006, 02:36 PM
Good article. Bettis will be very sadly missed when he retires. He is one of the most beloved sports figures in Pittsburgh. I hope we get it done this year for him because this would be the perfect ending to Jerome's wonderful career. Detroit or BUST!