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December 13, 2004
Steelers Clinch Division, Bettis Tops 13,000 Yards

The wheels on the Bus go round and round ...

The Pittsburgh Steelers clinched the AFC North division yesterday in a game when two running backs topped 13,000 career rushing yards each, the first time in NFL history that has happened. But it wasn't the rushing yards that made the Steelers' Jerome Bettis remarkable yesterday:

In a game that featured two of the NFL's best young quarterbacks, the pass that launched the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 17-6 victory over the New York Jets and their eighth division title in 13 seasons was thrown by 32-year-old running back Jerome Bettis.

His tiebreaking fourth-quarter toss to Jerame Tuman was as unlikely as it was spectacular, a moment that warmed the hearts of many of the 63,581 who endured sub-freezing temperatures Sunday at Heinz Field.

Jerome Bettis -- who played for Notre Dame, by the way -- has had a storybook season. Considered washed up for all but goal-line offenses, Bettis hung onto his job even after Pittsburgh signed star running back Duce Staley from the Philadelphia Eagles. When Staley seriously injured a hamstring, Bettis made the most of his opportunity, rushing for 100 yards in four straight games and transforming the Steelers back into a smashmouth, pounding offense that won games by controlling the line of scrimmage.

The combination of rookie QB Ben Roethlisberger and a rejuvenated Bettis has the Steelers at 12-1, a record they have not seen in almost 30 years, and close to clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It looks like the best chance the Steeler have had since they made it to the Super Bowl ten years ago, only to lose to the Dallas Cowboys on two blown reads resulting in interceptions run back for touchdowns. Pittsburgh has reason to be excited for the Steel Curtain again.

Say ... did anyone see how the Cleveland Browns did yesterday?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 13, 2004 6:44 AM

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