Only three members of the Steelers' defense were around in 2000 when, with just three plays, Steve McNair showed why he might be the most difficult quarterback they have ever had to defend.
And why, on this weekend of all-time teams and a 75th anniversary, he might be considered the biggest Steelers-killer of all-time.
It was Week 3 of the 2000 season and the Steelers were leading the Tennessee Titans, 20-16, late in the game. An injured McNair hobbled off the bench, replaced starter Neil O'Donnell, and calmly drove the Titans 70 yards in just 35 seconds for a 23-20 victory.
McNair completed all three passes he attempted for 55 yards, including the winning 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Erron Kinney with 1:31 remaining.
And that was that.
- Game: 8:30 p.m. Monday
- TV: ESPN/WTAE
- Where: Heinz Field
"We shouldn't have hurt O'Donnell," said cornerback Deshea Townsend, who was with the Steelers that season. "I just remember [McNair] was hurt all week and he came in and played like he was preparing all week."
That was nothing new for McNair. Not against the Steelers.
From 1998 to 2003, when he was with the Titans and Houston Oilers, McNair beat the Steelers nine out of 11 times, including a deflating 34-31 playoff defeat at Tennessee in 2002.
During his 13-year career, he has completed nearly 60 percent of his passes (228 of 381) for 2,842 yards and 21 touchdowns against the Steelers. His lifetime record against them is 11-4.
"He's a warrior," Townsend said. "He's one of those guys who stands with defensive linemen draped all over him and he's still looking for his receivers."
McNair hasn't stopped tormenting the Steelers, even with his new team, the Baltimore Ravens. In two lopsided victories against the Steelers last year, McNair completed 39 of 55 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns.
He's right up there with Tom Brady, John Elway, Jeff Blake, Eric Metcalf and Carl Pickens -- players who have always had big games vs. the Steelers or handed them disappointing defeats.
"I don't know what it is, but he always does good against the Steelers," said Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
Maybe that's why Ravens coach Brian Billick wanted to make sure McNair would be healthy enough to return for Monday night's game against the Steelers (5-2) at Heinz Field.
McNair was held out of the past two games and got an extra week off with a bye to recover from nagging back and groin injuries. Without him, the Ravens were 1-1 and scored only three offensive touchdowns.
"He's got great pocket presence," Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior said. "He's not afraid of the rush. He's not one of those guys looking where the rush is coming from. He'll sit back there and wait and wait until the last second."
"Tougher than nails," Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "He'll stand in there until the last second and just take a blow to the face. When the linemen and the rest of team see that, that's leadership."
McNair had an immediate impact on the Ravens following a trade with the Titans before the start of the 2006 season. He started all 16 games, something he hadn't done since the 2002 season, and led Baltimore to a 13-3 record and its first division title since 2003.
What's more, McNair set a franchise record for completion percentage (63.0), became the third quarterback in league history to pass for 30,000 yards and rush for 3,500 yards, and made his fourth Pro Bowl.
It was almost as if every game were against the Steelers.
"He's pretty much seen everything that needs to be seen," said Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. "He's very patient. Even when people are blitzing right in his face, he still stands in there. It's pretty amazing."
NOTES -- Pro Bowl G Alan Faneca did not practice yesterday because of a back problem and has been added to the official injury report. The move was considered precautionary, however, and he is expected to practice today. ... After saying defensive end Nick Eason needed to be stronger at the point of attack, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is expected to start Travis Kirschke at left defensive end as a replacement for injured Aaron Smith (knee). It will be Kirschke's second start in four seasons with the Steelers.