Profootballhof.com's Throwback Game of the Week Series - Each week during this season, the NFL’s 89th, Profootballhof.com will reflect on one of the weekend’s matchups. Unlike anywhere on the web, you’ll get inside access to the world’s largest collection on the NFL. The Hall’s archives staff will comb through the millions of documents, artifacts and photos in our collection to help tell the story. The new edition of Throwback Game of the Week will be posted on Profootballhof.com each Thursday throughout the 2008 NFL season. Enjoy!
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars were division rivals from 1995, the season that the Jags entered the NFL, through 2001. The following year the two clubs were placed in separate divisions as part of the NFL’s realignment.
Sunday night’s contest marks the 20th regular season meeting between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. The series has been fairly even with Jacksonville holding a slim 11-8 lead. The Jaguars have outscored the Steelers, 349-315, in those games. Jacksonville defeated Pittsburgh, 31-29, last season in the only postseason matchup between the two clubs.
Oct. 8, 1995 – Jaguars 20, Steelers 16 (Jacksonville) The expansion Jaguars shocked the Steelers by building a quick 14-0 lead and then hanging on for the club’s second straight win. Jacksonville’s opening 79-yard drive was capped by a 10-yard Mark Brunell to Cedric Tillman touchdown pass. The Steelers were led by wide receiver Yancey Thigpen who hauled in six passes for a season-high 160 yards.
MORE FROM PROFOOTBALLHOF.COM Steelers wideouts. Yancey Thigpen caught 222 passes during his career in Pittsburgh from 1992-97. He is one of a long line of fine receivers who have worn a Steelers jersey over the years. Two such players, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Both receivers joined the Steelers via the 1974 NFL Draft in which Pittsburgh selected four future Hall of Famers.
FROM THE HALL’S ARCHIVES Breakdown of win. See the game’s official gamebook (play-by-play) that is produced by the official stat crew at the game. The Jags win over the Steelers was one of the team’s highlights of its first season. After opening with four losses, the expansion Jags beat the Houston Oilers and then the Steelers. Two weeks later, Jacksonville downed the Cleveland Browns to win their third game in four weeks. Jacksonville then suffered seven straight losses before finishing the year on a high note with a 24-21 win over the Browns to finish 4-12 in its inaugural season. See Steelers v. Jags play-by-play PDF (3.86 MB)>>>
Oct. 26, 1997 – Steelers 23, Jaguars 17 OT (Pittsburgh) Running back Jerome Bettis took a shovel pass and ran 17 yards for the game-winning touchdown to knock the Jaguars out of first place in the AFC Central Division. Steelers’ QB Kordell Stewart threw for a career-high 317 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Pittsburgh WR Yancey Thigpen recorded career highs for catches (11) and yards (196).
FROM THE HALL’S ARCHIVES Cover shot. See the cover and several inside pages to that day’s game program. PDF (1.87 MB)>>>
MORE FROM PROFOOTBALLHOF.COM No. 5 – Jerome Bettis is the fifth-ranked rusher of all-time. He amassed 13,662 yards during his career with the Rams and Steelers. See the up-to-date Top 20 rankings>>> Photo Gallery – Images of Jerome Bettis’ career from the Hall’s photo collection. Launch gallery>>>
Nov. 19, 2000 – Jaguars 34, Steelers 24 (Pittsburgh) Jaguars’ RB Fred Taylor shined in the limelight of this Sunday night nationally televised game. He rushed for a team record 234 yards and scored four touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 receiving) against a Steelers defense that had only permitted three TDs in the previous seven games. Steelers QB Kordell Stewart rushed for 59 yards and two fourth quarter TDs to make the margin respectable.
FROM THE HALL’S ARCHIVES Taylor’s big night. A detailed play-by-play account of Fred Taylor’s big performance in leading the Jaguars to a win in Pittsburgh. PDF (4.75 MB)>>>
Dec. 1, 2002 – Steelers 25, Jaguars 23 (Jacksonville) Newly signed Jeff Reed, playing in only his second NFL game, kicked six field goals to tie a Steelers’ record. The Jaguars were led by QB Mark Brunell who threw a pair of touchdowns. His 7-yard TD pass to wide receiver Jimmy Smith with 1:16 remaining pulled Jacksonville within two points. However, Brunell’s two-point conversion attempt to Smith was broken up by Pittsburgh’s Dewayne Washington to preserve the victory for the Steelers.
FROM THE HALL’S ARCHIVES Preview. See the cover and some pages from the program that preview the Steelers-Jaguars game on Dec. 1, 2002. PDF (2.99 MB)>>>
Hall of Fame Perspective Len Dawson, Class of 1987
Quarterback Len Dawson helped the Kansas City Chiefs to great success that included three AFL titles and a Super Bowl IV championship. So, what does Dawson have to do with Pittsburgh and Jacksonville?
Well, Dawson’s pro career began with the Steelers who selected him in the first round of the 1957 NFL Draft. He played, albeit sparingly, three seasons with the Steelers before he was shipped to the Cleveland Browns. After two years in Cleveland, he joined the upstart American Football League’s Dallas Texans (who became the Kansas City Chiefs) in 1962 and instantly found success. He was named the AFL’s Player of the Year that season.
Dawson was named to six AFL All-Star Games, two of which were played in Jacksonville.
Pages from the 1968 AFL All-Star game program featured Dawson on the cover (although his name was misspelled). Inside, there are pages about Jacksonville hosting the game including some remarks about the city and its pro football future. PDF (1.12 MB)>>>
Jacksonville is the birthplace of Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood who starred for years with the Los Angeles Rams. Six Hall of Famers were born in Pittsburgh (only Chicago and New York boast more): Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Dan Rooney, Joe Schmidt, Johnny Unitas and Randy White.
MORE FROM PROFOOTBALLHOF.COM
See the state-by-state breakdown of where the 247 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were born. HOFers by Birthplace>>>
While the Jaguars are the first NFL team from Jacksonville, the Florida city has been home to another pro team. Jacksonville had the Sharks in 1974 as part of the ill-fated World Football League. The team was in so much financial trouble there was a reported story that the team owner borrowed nearly $30,000 from his head coach only to turn around and fire him! After players went unpaid for several weeks, the Jacksonville franchise was surrendered to the league and ceased operations with six weeks to play in the season. The WFL reorganized for the following season and the “new” Jacksonville club was called the Express. Both were short lived as the WFL folded midway through the season.
FROM THE HALL’S ARCHIVES
The Hall’s collection includes information, documents and artifacts from the World Football League. See the 1974 and ’75 media guides of the Jacksonville Sharks/Express and the Express helmet from 1975. View images PDF (1.44 MB)>>>
MORE FROM PROFOOTBALLHOF.COM
Here are standings of the World Football League in 1974 and 1975. View>>>
One can only wonder how different the Pittsburgh Steelers fortunes may have been had their head coach Jock Sutherland not passed away tragically from a brain tumor during a scouting trip in 1948. Sutherland was fresh off a season in which he led the Steelers to its first ever playoff appearance. Sutherland’s Steelers finished 8-4-2 in ’47 and tied for first to force a post-season showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers only had five winning seasons over the next two decades until the Chuck Noll era began.
FROM THE HALL’S ARCHIVES
The Hall’s collection includes a comprehensive library of football books. Among the hundreds of titles is a 1954 biography called Jock Sutherland: Architect of Men by Harry G. Scott (published by Exposition Press). The forward was written by the famed Grantland Rice who described Sutherland in the following manner:
In my opinion Dr. John B. “Jock” Sutherland was one of the great coaches of football. He not only inspired full respect from his men, but he knew how to blend them into great teams. He was an exceptionally fine line coach and I believe the finest running backfield coach that I have ever seen. Jock was never too keen about the forward pass as he hated to “turn the ball loose,” and he said, when you already had it. But his timing and his blocking on running plays was a beautiful thing to watch.
I knew Jock for many, many years and always had the feeling of both affection and admiration for him on and off the field.
Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bill Dudley made history with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1946. The star halfback led the NFL in four statistical categories. In doing so, he became the first and only player ever to achieve that feat.