Steelers’ Thursdays comebacks: Troy Polamalu’s fingertip interception
Before the NFL officially gears up for the 2022-23 season, Steel City Underground will take fans back in time to showcase events, special moments and historic moments in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit those moments in our “Throwback Thursdays”.
On April 10, 2015, Troy Polamalu retired from the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his decorative career with the Steelers, he has done many amazing pieces.
This interception stands out as one of many landmark interceptions.
On November 16, 2008, the Pittsburgh Steelers faced the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field in a late afternoon game. Pittsburgh started the season strong and started the day with a 6-3 overall record.
The Chargers controlled the ball first and got a first down after a run from LaDainian Tomlinson and two assists from Philip Rivers.
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On 1 and 10 at the Chargers 45, Rivers tries his luck again for a third straight completion as he backs up and throws to Vincent Jackson ten yards from the field. The ball hits Jackson in his heart and the ball pops into the air as Ike Taylor tackles it.
The ball then appears to float in the air as Troy Polamalu acrobatically jumps in an attempt to catch it.
Even CBS announcer Jim Nantz thought the ball fell incomplete. However, the referees let the game continue: and fortunately.
Just when he was inches off the ground, Polamalu scoops the ball up with his fingertips. In true Troy fashion, he attempts to return the pick and gains 21 yards.
The play would be contested, of course, but it was upheld and ruled an interception. A few compensatory penalties changed where the ball ultimately went, but the game turned the tide for the Steelers.
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In the final moments of the same game, Polamalu would strike again, seemingly taking a Chargers fumble home. However, umpires were ruling against the legality of the game and it was challenged by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Both games were important, as the Steelers won a close game by the final score (baseball) of 11-10.
They would meet the Chargers again in the Wild Card round of the playoffs that season, beating them and going all the way to beat the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl later that same season.