From the PG Archives: Sidelights on Sports
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The column from the Post-Gazette's archives was originally published on Oct. 18, 1954.
Monday Morning's Sports Wash
While 33,262 pop-eyed customers roared their approval, the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday recorded the brightest chapter in the 22-year history of professional history here by walloping the daylights out of the vaunted Cleveland Browns, 55-27.
It was a day long to remember-- one that will be talked about by those present for years to come -- because they saw a fine Steeler team reach the heights of greatness.
It was not that the men of Rooney U won but the manner in which they accomplished the feat that counted most. They handled the four-time Eastern Division champions with consummate ease, beat them at every phase of the game both offensively and defensively.
The Steelers played so well yesterday that it wouldn't be far-fetched at all to say they could have licked any football team in the world.
The win, the first ever registered over the Browns, put the local pros in the thick of the flag battle, only a step behind the undefeated Eagles who will be met here next Saturday night.
Finks, Mathews Lead Parade
There were enough honors to pass around for every Steeler who competed in the victory but the stickouts from an offensive standpoint were Jimmy Finks and Ray Mathews.
Mathews set up four touchdowns -- more points than any Steeler player had ever scored -- while Finks, playing with a special mask, passed and ran the team in such brilliant fashion that he even outshone the best of them all -- Otto Graham.
Ironically, this was the same Finks and the same Mathews and the same Steeler team who were all but booed out of the league a short month ago because of poor play in exhibition games.
It was the same team which was forced to change coaches even before it got into the official swim for 1954. All of which made the remarkable turnabout performance a tribute to the coaching of big Walter Kiesling, an unobtrusive and forgotten man on the sidelines despite his jumbo size.
Beat Good Brown Team
There will be some detractors who will say the Browns are on a downbeat from previous years. We can't quite agree. The team we saw [on] Paul Brown field yesterday was just as talented as that of last season or the seasons before. It was just a case of where the Steelers were so much better.
The statistics will prove Graham was at his passing best, the Browns' running game just as potent as ever, but Finks and the Steelers match them shot for shot plus playing much headier ball.
The Steeler defensive line, headed by Stautner, Dodrill, McPeak, Butler and other stalwarts, completely outplayed their hefty opponents and harassed Graham into making a couple of mistakes which were turned into touchdowns.
The unheard-of total of six interceptions against Graham were recorded, that's how hard the Steelers were playing.
That Torrid First Half
Not even the most imaginative of script writers could have set up a wilder and more exciting first half in which more action was packed than one will find in a dozen collegiate contests.
The two clubs pulled out all stops while eight touchdowns were being recorded -- five for the Steelers and three for the Browns!
To add to the unusual and bizarre, each side missed a point after touchdown, something seldom seen in a pro game.
Even the great and unerring Groza failed on a field goal attempt in the final seconds of thumping play. It was a 37-yarder which veered to the right of the goal posts while thousands gasped in relief.
Action! Man, They Went Crazy!
By comparison with what happened in the second quarter, the first was routine. This was when the Browns jumped off to a 14-7 lead by scoring the second and third times they had the ball.
The Steelers registered the equalizer on their third effort when Finks hit Mathews with a pass in the end zone while the latter did a hip dance that outhipped his defender, Don Paul.
This made the score 7-7. The Browns got this one back to lead, 14-7. Things looked black for the Steelers seconds later when Chandnois had a momentary lapse on the kickoff. Instead of downing the ball in the end zone he permitted it to bounce and finally fell on it inches from the goal line. A good Brady kick and a clipping penalty on the boot got the Steelers out of the hole.
Then came the fireworks. What happened had to be seen to be believed and appreciated. The Steelers erupted here for four touchdowns, three of them coming in the non-believable space of one minute and 55 seconds.
The first two touchdowns came within 40 seconds of each other. A Finks-to-Rogel pass and a Held-missed kick after TD left the score 14-13.
Butler nabbed a Graham pass on the first play after the kickoff and rambled 41 yards to make the board read 20-14.
Nickel's kickoff was fumbled by Renfro and Popcorn Brandt recovered on the Cleveland 30.
This was where a press box wit shouted to the Steelers: "Don't take so long this time to score."
The Steelers did take a little longer -- a minute and 15 seconds longer -- but they made it.
After that it was off to the races!
First Published September 23, 2007 8:16 pm