Next Stop: Detroit
The Pitsburgh Steelers are riding a 34-17 pounding of the Denver Broncos all the way to Detroit. Bill Cowher is riding the Bus to redemption.
In the first half a fast Steelers defense forced Denver's Jake Plummer to fall into what most called his old ways. Joey Porter and James Farrior broke his rhythm and caused the Broncos to commit four turnovers, all of which lead to Steelers points. The Broncos had five turnovers during the entire regular season.
“Anytime you have four turnovers it’s hard to win football games," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. "This is a team game. You do it as a team, offense, defense and special teams – I think we got beat in all areas today. When you have two turnovers(in the first half), you’re playing catch-up for the majority of the day.”
Plummer was under pressure for most of the game slipping out of the clutches of the Steelers' defense seemingly on every other play.
“It’s all about pressure, we really got after (Jake Plummer)," Porter said. "I felt like I could beat their tackles off the end and was able to keep containment when he would bootleg to my side."
Porter played in his third AFC championship with the Steelers earning his first trip to the Super Bowl.
Cowher's past failures in AFC championships proved not to haunt him in this game.
"You can say anything you want about me and the failures I have had," Cowher said. "That's fine. I understand it's part of this business. I try to seize each year and take each game and this group of guys and make them be as good as they can be.
A lot of guys that went through it last year didn't want to go through that same feeling again. They worked too hard to get here. I want to make sure they remember that also and two weeks from today because, like I said, no one remembers who lost the Super Bowl."
One of the guys who "went through it last year" was Jerome "Bus" Bettis. Last year the Steelers were 15-1 heading to the playoffs then fell apart in the AFC Championship against the New England Patriots. Bettis contemplated retirement. In tears, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told Bettis to give him one more year and promised the Bus he'd get him to the big Game. Roethlisberger deliveder. Bettis relied on him and the rest of his teammates to realize his dream of playing in the Super Bowl in his hometown - Detroit.
"I asked them for two things," Bettis said. "I asked them to give me 110 percent, and if you walk away from this game giving that, I'm going to say thank you, shake your hand and give you a big hug... The second thing I told them was get me home."
Heading to the Super Bowl after beating the AFC's top three seads on the road was unprobable. Heading to Detroit with the hopes of locking two future members into the Hall of Fame is definite.