The Tennessee Titans are 3-0 for the first time since Kerry Collins and the Titans rattled off 10 straight wins to start the 2008 season. One of the most memorable games during that season was when the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Terrible Towels invaded LP Field in Week 16. The Titans (13-2) downed the Steelers (11-4) by the score of 31-14 to secure home field advantage throughout the postseason.
As memorable as the Steelers game was for Titans fans, the game is also one of former Titan legend Keith Bulluck’s favorite memories. “It was one of those things where we weren’t getting respect. Already being [12-2] we weren’t getting any kind of respect — they had it like the Steelers were just gonna come roll us,” said Bulluck, who is featured this week on A to Z Sports Nashville’s Titan Up Podcast.
No matter who the Steelers are playing, the black and gold’s’ fan base is known for their rabid passion and loyal diehards. “It’s crazy when you come out to the field and you see 20,000 yellow towels in your stadium before the game. They’re acting like it’s their stadium,” said Bulluck regarding a home environment that was more hostile than he cared for.
It was the fourth quarter and the score was 24-14 with just over 30 seconds remaining when Michael Griffin intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass. Griffin took it back 83 yards to the house to clinch the win with the score at 31-14 with 16 seconds to go.
“We played well. It was a really close game ‘til about the fourth quarter when Michael Griffin had an interception and ran it back for a touchdown to kind of seal the deal,” stated Bulluck.
This should be on loop in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for all of eternity pic.twitter.com/yTGSS4zlU2
— Titan Up Podcast (@TitanUpPod) June 11, 2020
The win over Pittsburgh was an emotional day for the Titans and their fans, but nobody was more elated than the former All-Pro Titans linebacker from Syracuse. Bulluck and teammate LenDale White made national news for stomping on a Terrible Towel as the game’s final seconds ticked down. It was a celebration that received national attention.
But how did this idea spawn itself?
“I told our sideline security, Jeb, I was like ‘Yo, get me one of those towels,’” said Bulluck referring to the Titans’ current security coordinator, Jeb Johnston. “So I had the towel and I was just like, ‘Look if y’all want it back, you’ve got to come back through Tennessee.’”
Bulluck explains the message by saying, “That was me setting the stage for that AFC Championship home game, that would’ve been crazy.
Titans’ fans haven’t forgotten about the victory on December 21, 2008. After Bulluck and White tap danced on the gold towel, the Titans went on to lose their final regular season game before falling to the Ravens. The team would then start the 2009 season with an 0-6 record. Could it have been karma? It is understandable for Titans’ fans to assume a hex had taken place, especially considering the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl XLIII.
As for the curse, “That’s for the fans and everybody else to have fun with,” said Bulluck who laughed off the idea.
“We came out the next year very complacent – the coaching staff, the players – just thought, ‘Oh, we just went 13-3, next year is going to be even better.’”
With the Steelers coming to town again at some point this week (hopefully), the Titans won’t have to deal with 20,000 plus Terrible Towels in Nissan Stadium. Maybe the Titans learned their lesson, but if Derrick Henry and Rashaan Evans ask Jeb Johnston for a towel again, who knows what he will say?
Featured image courtesy of Associated Press Photo.