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PRO FOOTBALL : Oiler Playoff Hopes Still Alive After 24-16 Win

December 21, 1987| From Times Wire Services

HOUSTON — The Houston Oilers kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the team they will be cheering for next weekend.

Warren Moon threw two touchdown passes to Drew Hill as the Oilers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-16, Sunday.

The Oilers (8-6) needed the victory to retain any chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 1980.

The Steelers (8-6) entered the game tied with Cleveland atop the AFC Central Division. They play the Browns, whom they trail by a game, next Saturday at Pittsburgh, and can still qualify for the playoffs as a wild-card team.

The Oilers can win their first Central Division title if they beat Cincinnati in the Astrodome next Sunday and Pittsburgh defeats Cleveland.

Sunday's game included a third-quarter fight that led to the ejection of three players--Houston's Doug Smith and Richard Byrd and Pittsburgh's Frank Pollard. Houston Coach Jerry Glanville and Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll exchanged words after the game.

"What was said was private," Glanville said. "There are television cameras here that go into homes where there are children. And now I'll have to become the biggest Chuck Noll fan in history."

Noll has been critical of Houston's defensive tactics, accusing the Oilers of spearing after the teams' first meeting in Pittsburgh.

"I don't like that kind of football," Noll said. "It may be a short-term thing, but it won't be a long-term thing, I assure you."

Moon completed 12 of 25 passes for 240 yards, with his touchdown pass plays to Hill covering 52 yards and 30 yards. Hill caught 4 passes for 109 yards.

Pittsburgh's Mark Malone completed 12 of 27 passes for 181 yards and was intercepted 3 times, twice by Jeff Donaldson in the fourth quarter.

After Hill's second touchdown reception made it 24-16 with 5:20 left, Pittsburgh drove to the Houston eight, but a pass from Malone to John Stallworth bounced off Patrick Allen and Donaldson caught it.

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