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PITTSBURGH 34, ATLANTA 34

Maddox Can Even Only One Score

November 11, 2002|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — No Steeler quarterback had passed for more yards than Tommy Maddox did Sunday. And no Falcon quarterback had played a better fourth quarter that Michael Vick.

Neither team knew how to react to a game so exciting, so dramatic -- and in the end, so empty.

Vick rallied Atlanta from 17 points down in the fourth quarter, and the Falcons withstood Maddox's franchise-record 473 yards passing to tie Pittsburgh, 34-34, Sunday. It was the NFL's first tie in five years, and the 16th in league history.

The Steelers, traditionally a blue-collar team that wins with defense and the running game, piled up 645 yards as Maddox and receiver Plaxico Burress each set club yardage records, yet still couldn't help their team win.

"I can't believe it. For us to do the things we did -- I mean, Tommy almost threw for 500 yards -- and to fall short, it's unbelievable," wide receiver Hines Ward said.

Maddox completed 28 of 41 passes and easily broke Bobby Layne's 1958 team record of 409 yards. Burress made nine catches for 253 yards and two touchdowns, but Pittsburgh couldn't hold a 34-17 lead.

Maddox's career game came in only his sixth start for the Steelers, and it happened against the coach who drafted him, Atlanta's Dan Reeves. Maddox was selected by Denver and went to the Giants when Reeves coached there, but Maddox's NFL career was a bust until this season.

"Well, I love him to death, but I still wanted to beat him. Man, I wanted that game," Maddox said.

Even after Pittsburgh's Todd Peterson and Atlanta's Jay Feely had overtime field-goal attempts blocked, the Steelers nearly won. With only one second on the clock, Maddox lofted a 50-yard pass that Burress caught at the Falcon one-yard line. Half of Burress' body was in the end zone but the ball wasn't, and the Steelers didn't have enough time to run another play.

"We didn't win but, we didn't lose," Burress said. "It's so disappointing. You have this uneasy feeling that you lost, but you know you really didn't."

It was the NFL's first tie since the Giants and Redskins played to a 7-7 stalemate on Nov. 23, 1997. Since the NFL implemented overtime in 1974, there have been 332 games go the extra period, but only 16 of those ended without either team scoring.

Both teams remained unbeaten in their last five games and are 5-3-1.

Vick pulled off the comeback despite being forced into being one-dimensional. The Steelers' blitzes limited him to 52 yards rushing, but one of his few successful scrambles was an 11-yard touchdown run in the final minute of regulation.

Despite the constant pressure, Vick dodged and weaved his way to a 294-yard passing day, going 24 for 46 -- all while being sacked four times.

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