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Steelers' postseason history: Jan. 3

Written by Dan Gigler on .

Since the Steelers have home field advantage in the also-ran postseason, we'll take a look back at some of the highlights and heartbreaks of playoffs past ...

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Today: Jan. 3, 1998 -- AFC Divsional Playoff vs. New England

Out of the 54 playoff games the Steelers have played, this one is the lowest scoring of them all -- a 7-6 defensive war of attrition that marks the only time in four tries that Pittsburgh defeated frequent tormentor New England in the postseason.

The Patriots had embarrassed the Steelers in the playoffs the year before and this game was a rematch of a thrilling regular season meeting just three weeks earlier in Foxboro. The Steelers had stolen a win after DT Kevin Henry snagged a freak pick -- briefly dubbed the 'Immaculate Interception -- from Drew Bledsoe late in the game to set up a game tying touchdown and two-point conversion. The Steelers won the game in OT on a Norm Johnson FG.

This game had the look of an easy Steelers win when Chad Scott picked off Drew Bledsoe on the third play of the game and quarterback Kordell Stewart moved the Steelers down the field, scoring on a 40-yard designed run. And after that ... nothing. New England shut Pittsburgh down, holding Jerome Bettis to a mere 67 yards rushing and Stewart to only 134 yards passing and no touchdowns.

Josh Miller who punted (in the immortal words of Ed Rooney) nine times was arguably the player of the game.

Arguably, because the Steelers defense was even stingier than their New England counterparts, holding the Patriots to two field goals and only 36 yards rushing while forcing four turnovers.

A late strip sack of Bledsoe by Mike Vrabel (top) effectively clinched the game for the Steelers. It was undoubtedly the high point in the four-year Steeler career of Vrabel, who never quite fit in on the field in Pittsburgh, but went on to great success with ... New England.

Edited Broadcast:

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Chad Scott's early pick helped set up Pittsburgh's only score of the game.
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Charles Johnson would haul in this pass thrown into double coverage, a mistake that Kordell Stewart rarely made in bizzarro Pittsburgh.
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Is it me or did Three Rivers seem like it was 10x bigger than Heinz Field?
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New England effectively contained Jerome Bettis all afternoon.
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Jason Gildon came up with the fumble recovery that put the game on ice for Pittsburgh.
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Pete Carroll is flummoxed and chagrined.
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Quick -- how is this 1998 crowd shot different from today? No one has their head down looking at a phone.

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