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THE 1996 NFL

Oilers Talk, but Steelers Walk the Walk

AFC: Pittsburgh has final word in fight-marred game, winning, 30-16, by forcing five turnovers and getting solid efforts from Bettis and Tomczak.

September 30, 1996|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — The Houston Oilers committed four critical first-half mistakes and the Pittsburgh Steelers took advantage, getting two first-quarter touchdown passes from Mike Tomczak and posting a 30-16 AFC Central victory on Sunday.

Houston lost three fumbles and two starting defensive backs, Marcus Robertson and Darryll Lewis, both to fighting-related ejections. Coaches Jeff Fisher and Bill Cowher twice helped break up fights, and several fans even tried mixing it up with the Oilers.

"That's what happens when you put some revved-up men out there and the hormones start flowing," Steeler linebacker Levon Kirkland said. "They came out talking, but if you're going to talk the talk, you've got to walk the walk. We're not going to back down against anybody"

The Oilers came out with an excellent game plan. Then Pittsburgh ran it to perfection. Houston wanted to run the ball, stay close and let Tomczak beat himself with mistakes. Instead, Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis ran for 115 yards in his third consecutive 100-yard game and Houston's Chris Chandler threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.

The Oilers committed two of their five turnovers and had a field goal blocked in the first half, when Steeler defensive end Brentson Buckner could be heard yelling to Eddie George, the Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, "You're not running against Iowa any more."

Tomczak completed 15 of 28 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers (3-1), who have won three in a row since a season-opening loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Oilers (2-2) missed a chance to take the divisional lead and have lost five in a row to Pittsburgh and seven of nine overall.

Lewis intercepted a Tomczak pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to cut Pittsburgh's lead to 20-14.

But Norm Johnson's 36-yard field goal put Pittsburgh ahead by nine points and Darren Perry scored on a 13-yard interception return with 5:17 to play to make it 30-14.

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