Steelers Flashback Friday: 2002 OT Hail Mary Against Falcons Comes Up One Yard Short

The Hail Mary game-winner in Thursday night’s contest between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions instantly had me thinking back to the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers had a memorable long and successful heave down the field as the time expired in a game.

All I could come up with was a successful unsuccessful play and that took place in 2002 against the Atlanta Falcons and we’ll use that as our focus on this Flashback Friday.

With one second remaining in overtime and the game tied at 34, Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox dropped back from his own 49-yard line and heaved a deep pass towards the end zone. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress jumped and caught the ball just short of the goal-line with defenders behind him but was quickly tackled and ruled down at the Falcons 1-yard-line for a 50-yard reception as time expired. The game ended in a tie.

Burress caught 9 passes in that game for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns and his yardage stood as the franchise record up until just a few weeks ago when wide receiver Antonio Brown broke it with his 284 receiving yards against the Oakland Raiders. Burress’ yardage in that game surpassed Buddy Dial’s team-record of 235 against Cleveland in 1961.

Maddox, by the way, completed 28 of his 41 pass attempts in that game for 473 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was easily the best came of his career and at that time set a Steelers franchise record for passing yards in a single game that was set in 1958 by Bobby Layne (409). Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has since bested Maddox’s record twice.

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