It’s one of the most famous clips from inside the locker room in Pittsburgh Steelers history, and unsurprisingly it played a key role in the Steelers rolling to Super Bowl XL in 2005.
“They shot me in Denver!”
That was the famous battle cry from Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter Sr. following a thrilling 21-18 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2005 playoffs. That victory propelled the Steelers to an AFC Championship Game matchup with the Denver Broncos in Denver, where more than a year earlier, Porter was shot in the buttocks outside of a bar.
For Porter, appearing on the All Things Covered podcast with co-hosts Bryant McFadden and current Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson, that moment had the Steelers “mad at the whole state of Colorado” leading up to the AFC Championship Game — a game that the Steelers went on to win convincingly, 34-17, earning a trip to Super Bowl XL against the Seattle Seahawks.
“With Denver, some of the cats that was on this ride with us didn’t know what happened. At that point in time, Pat P, we was a unit where we were ready to take it out on the whole side of Denver like one of the Broncos shot me,” Porter said, according to video via the All Things Covered YouTube page. “We was so mad at the whole state of Colorado at this point in time, particularly Denver because I got shot in Denver.
“We was just on that wave where we were ready to rock at any point in time, so I made it personal against Denver because it happened in Denver, so that was going to be the motivation, and that’s what we used going into the fight.”
What happened is well known, but let’s revisit it again.
Porter suffered a gunshot wound in the buttocks following an incident outside of a bar in Denver on August 31, 2003, which caused him to miss the first two games of the regular season. The Steelers did play the Broncos that year, losing 17-14 in Denver. Porter had six tackles, one for loss in that loss.
Despite missing just two games after being shot a week before the start of the season, Porter said the entire 2003 season was a difficult one for him and that nothing went right.
After the loss to Denver in 2003, Pittsburgh didn’t get a crack at Denver again until the 2005 AFC Championship Game with the second-seeded Broncos hosting the sixth-seeded Steelers. After defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round, Porter, always a vocal leader, amped up his teammates after head coach Bill Cowher advised him to watch what he said that week.
“Hey, I got that!”, he cried. “They shot me in Denver!” before leading his teammates into the “Who Ride? We Ride!” chant. It’s become a famous video over time, and understandably so. It’s a rallying cry for the Steelers, one that will live on forever.
In fact, it’s one that even his son, Joey Porter Jr., who obviously is now a Steeler in his own right, uses as motivation ahead of games.
That motivation for the 2005 Steelers certainly worked. Pittsburgh raced out to a huge lead in Denver, silencing the crowd in the Mile High City, leading to a relatively easy stroll through the second half on the way to winning the AFC and punching their tickets to Detroit for Super Bowl XL.
Fortunately, Porter wasn’t seriously wounded in the shooting. But what a moment it created.