Notebook: Maddox's resolve still remembered
When the Steelers pulled off a comeback for the ages in beating the Browns last January in the playoffs, quarterback Tommy Maddox's resolve was as responsible for the rally as his arm.
Maddox delivered an impassioned address to his teammates during a halftime that saw the Steelers trailing 17-7. In so many words, he told them not to return to the field for the third quarter if they didn't believe the Steelers were capable of winning.
The Steelers found themselves behind 24-7 in the third quarter and 33-21 in the fourth quarter before charging from behind and winning, 36-33.
To this day, Maddox maintains he truly believed such a thing was possible in delivering his halftime address.
"With these guys and this team, I always believe," he said. "You look at the way we jumped back this past Sunday (in a 30-13 loss to Tennessee), and we started going up and down the field, trying to score again (after falling behind). I feel like we always have a chance to win no matter what situation we're in.
"The great thing about this team is you don't see a lot of guys ever quitting or getting down. They're just continually going and going, so yeah, I believed we had a shot."
The Browns rank 27th in the NFL in run defense, allowing an average of 141.3 yards per game. But Steelers running back Amos Zereoue said the figure is bloated due to the NFL-record 295 yards Baltimore's Jamal Lewis bolted for against Cleveland on Sept. 14.
"It's deceptive," Zereoue said. "You can't go off what Jamal Lewis did against them. Look at the other tapes, teams are averaging 60, 70 yards. That doesn't mean we can't run against them, but it's not what the Baltimore Ravens did to them," that should be accepted as the norm.
The Steelers will allow fans to start the festivities at Heinz Field early Sunday when they open The Coca-Cola Great Hall and the South Plaza (Gates A and B) at 5:30 p.m., three hours before kickoff against the Browns. Gate C opens at 6:30.
Also, team and stadium management point out that the Fort Pitt Tunnels are open inbound and outbound, and there is ample parking Downtown and in the Strip District, Allegheny Center and Station Square.
After parking Downtown, people can walk across the Fort Duquesne Bridge or Roberto Clemente Bridge, which will be closed to vehicular traffic, or take the adjoining riverwalk directly to the stadium. Eight Downtown parking garages charge $3 per vehicle. Plus, the Gateway Clipper operates water shuttles from Station Square. Reserved parking lots around the stadium open at 3:30. North Shore Drive near Heinz Field will be limited to incoming traffic prior to the game and outgoing traffic after the game. Art Rooney Avenue, which is on the stadium's east side, is closed to vehicular traffic on game day. General Robinson Street is one way (westbound) before the game and one way (eastbound) after the game between Martindale and Art Rooney Avenue.
People are also reminded to arrive early, due to strict security searches at every gate. Coolers, thermoses, bags, backpacks and purses larger than 8x11 inches are prohibited. Small purses, camera cases, binocular cases and diaper bags are permitted, but are subject to inspection.
Wide receiver Plaxico Burress (hip), linebacker Clint Kriewaldt (knee), tight end Jay Riemersma (shoulder) and offensive tackle Marvel Smith (shoulder) are questionable for the Steelers. Linebacker James Farrior (glute) and offensive tackle Todd Fordham (knee) are probable ... For Cleveland, quarterback Kelly Holcomb (ankle), cornerback Michael Lehan (hamstring) and tight end Aaron Shea (shoulder) are questionable, and wide receiver Dennis Northcutt (chest) is probable.