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Billy Cowher’s Playoff History

January 09, 2005 by Still Mill

Billy Cowher�s playoff history


Intro:  Because the memory of the typical Pittsburgh sports fan lasts only about, oh, 5 months, it's always prudent to reinforce the real facts of history.  As we have long seen, both in sports and in international relations, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat the same failure.  That said, herewith is the compilation of Billy Cowher's illustrious playoff history.  (See this link for a condensed tabular version of the Cowher playoff history.)


Jan. �93 - Despite securing the top seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Cowher�s team gets thoroughly whipped and embarrassed by the Bills, 24-3.


Jan. �94 - The Stillers visited a very ordinary Chiefs team, and lost a very winnable game because of two chronic problems: dropped passes, including one by Jeff Graham that could have sealed the game, and special teams fiasco caused by a blocked punt. On the game-tying do or die TD by Kansas City, the Stillers played vanilla, rushing just 4 men and allowing Joe Montana 7 seconds to scan the entire field.


Jan. �95 - Cowher finally got his first playoff win by beating Cleveland, a team they�d already waltzed through twice during the regular season. Cowher then allowed his players to conduct Super Bowl video practice in the week leading up to the AFC title game in Pittsburgh. As a 10-point favorite over the weak SD Chargers, the Stillers lost in one of the most shameful, pitiful playoff losses in franchise history, to one of the weakest teams to ever make it to the Super Bowl.


Jan. �96 - The Stillers easily disposed of an aging, decrepit Bills team in their first game, 40-21.


     Then, thanks to a KC loss, the Stillers managed to get another home-field AFC title game, this time against a very weak, ordinary Colts team that was ravaged by injury. Not only was star RB Marshall Faulk out, but backup Zack Crockett was also hobbled from the KC game, meaning the running chores belonged to 3rd stringer Lamont Warren. Despite overwhelming talent at virtually every position on the football field, the Stillers were behind late in the game, and had CB Willie Williams not abandoned his assignment and chased down Warren from behind on a late 3rd & 1, the Colts would have salted away nearly all of the scant remaining time. O�Donell then hit Hastings on a huge 4th and 3, and with less than a minute left, Bam crashed in for the winning score. Still, the Colts came back against a softee defense, and had a legit shot at a Hail Mary that was just barely incomplete in the EZ. In a sheer fit of luck and fortune, the Stillers avoided what would have been their most shameful playoff loss ever, even worse than the previous year.


     In the Super Bowl, Cowher arrived on gameday to a soggy, sloppy, soupy, mucky field in Tempe, and nevertheless insisted on starting & playing scatback Erric Pegram for the first 20-some minutes.  Pegram, of course, was the same back that struggled mightily in the win on a soggy, soupy Cleveland field back in week 12, slipping and sliding as though he were wearing dress shoes. Unfazed and undaunted, Cowshit insisted on giving Pegram nearly exclusive playing time the first 20 mintues, and Pegram responded with exactly zero productivity in the ground game.  On top of that, the entire Stiller defense came out in a fog, totally befuddled and bewildered by the size and brawn of the Cowboy offensive line. By the time Bam Morris finally entered the game, and by the time the defense adjusted to the Cowboy offense, Dallas had a comfy lead they should have never been given. Then, with Morris ripping through the soft Cowpoke defense for nice chunks of yardage, with gobs of time left, Cowher insisted on going pass-happy and putting O'Donnell into an undesirable situation against a Dallas blitz and his favorite underneath receiver, Hastings, hobbled by a busted shoulder. 


Jan. �97 - Stillers beat a woeful, injury-ravaged Colts team 42-14. The Stillers then faced an ordinary New England team in the fog of Boston, and in a complete fog, got thoroughly whipped and embarrassed, 28-3. The ineptitude of the team�s woeful preparation was never more evident than the Stillers� first play from scrimmage -- a play that is practiced at least 15 times leading up to the game --- which was flagged for having 2 men in motion at the same time.  This was as severe an assbeating as the NFL has ever seen in modern-day playoffs. 


Jan. �98 - At home, the Stillers faced a weak, injury-ravaged Patriots team, so beat up that not only was star RB Curtis Martin on the shelf, but his backup was as well, meaning little-used 3rd string RB Derrick Cullors had to start at RB. Despite the home field advantage; the fact that they'd already played and narrowly beaten the Pats 1 month prior; and superior talent all over the field, the only TD the Stillers could muster all day was a fluke 40-yard scamper by Stewart, made possible only because a NE LB pulled away in fear of a personal foul flag as Stew was tight-roping the sideline. The Stillers eked out a totally uninspiring win, 7-6, one of the sloppiest, ugliest, shit-laden playoff games ever played by the black-jerseyed team in the history of 3 Rivers Stadium.  After the game, all Bilbo Cowher could say was,  "I'm a young coach, and I screwed up," the Pittsburgh Steelers coach said, admitting his gamble on fourth-and-goal the 1-yard-line against New England Saturday was the wrong call. "I made a mistake and they bailed me out."  Young coach�.?  At the time, the man had been the head coach for SIX regular seasons and FIVE playoff seasons.  Not young; just dumb as a rock.  


     They then faced a Denver team that they�d beaten the month prior, but in the rematch Coach Mike Shanahan�s adjustments allowed the Broncs to pull off yet another playoff upset of the Stillers at home. While the ignorant place blame on Kordell Stewarts 2 INTs (the 3rd was a useless Hail Mary as time expired), it was Billy Cowher that once again put a player into an entirely undesirable situation, especially on the 2nd INT, which was a play from the Denver 3-yard line designed to hit a slant pattern amidst TRIPLE coverage.  The coaching imbecility of Bill Cowher was never more evident than the key 3rd & 7 play that occurred right after the lengthy 2-minute warning timeout, in which Cowher�s defense rushed only 4 men at Hall of Fame QB John Elway, while covering the most likely pass recipient (Shannon Sharpe) with a LB (Gildon) who, at the time, almost never dropped into coverage.  The Broncs completed the pass and salted away the final 1:54, and went on to easily beat an average Packers' team while Billy Cowher once again went into a late-January hibernation in order to avoid further embarrassment.  (Sure enough, though, less than 2 months later, Billy Cowhard -- still under contract -- had the gaul to demand a payraise, lest he was fleeing to Cleveland to coach a team that, at that time, did not yet exist.) 


Jan. '02:  Convincingly beat rival Baltimore, 27-10, in one of the very rare, strong all-around efforts by a Cowher playoff team. 


     The Stillers then hosted the NE Patriots in the AFC Title game.  The Pats limped into Heinz Field as 10-point underdogs, and most experts, sans this one, assumed NE would be just happy to show up and go back to Foxboro without getting embarrassed too badly.  The only embarrassment was on the beet-red face of Coach Bilbo Cowher, whose team slopped and slathered en route to a horrifying, despicable defeat, 24-17.  Special teams, a bugaboo since the 2001 opener in Jax, plagued the Stillers, allowing a punt return for a TD and a blocked FG return for a TD (the latter essentially a 10-point swing, assuming the FG would have been good).  It wasn't only spec teams, of course.  The offense stunk, "led" by Big Jerome Bettis, who was entirely unproductive and worthless.  The defense allowed Brady to pick them apart, and even when Brady briefly left the game, the Softee Defense allowed a cold Drew Bledsoe to complete a clutch 3rd & long, and soon thereafter hit WR David Patten for a TD while Jason GilDong, grossly overmatched in single coverage, literally quit on the play.  (Yet another example of Billy Cowhair placing a player into a totally undesirable situation.) 


Jan. '03:  The Stillers faced the hapless Clev Browns in the first round, a team they'd already beaten twice in the '02 season.  Clev came into the game with no running attack, an utterly horrible offense line, and a mediocre stable of RBs "led" by Will Green and Jamel White.  Nonetheless, facing this entirely ONE-dimensional offense (Holcomb 429 yards passing in this game, Green 1.2 YPC on 25 rushes), Cowhard's defense got shredded right from the get-go, and the Browns were up 14-0 before most fans at the stadium could buy a post-kickoff beer.  The Browns built their lead to 24-7, and only by the good graces of Maddox and a dropped 3rd down pass by Denny Northcutt did the Stillers eke out a 36-33 win.  The epitome of Cowher's shoddy preparation was the 2nd play from scrimmage, in which his defense had to call a timeout due to befuddled confusion because -- gasp -- the Browns went no-huddle and used a 4-WR formation.  Had the Stillers lost this game -- and they came within a gnat's eyelash of doing so -- this might very well have been the most embarrassing loss in the entire history of the Stillers franchise.  


     The Stillers then traveled to Tennessee to face the injury-ravaged Titans.  Going into the game, all the so-called experts, sans this one, insisted the Titans would run the ball and eschew the pass, because the Titans' WR corps was so battered and ravaged.  Undaunted, the Titans took ballboys and added them onto their roster as WRs, and then proceeded to SHRED the Bily Cowher Softee Defense to the tune of 338 passing yards by Steve McNair.  Indeed, facing an offense with a banged-up QB; the star RB who was lost of the game on the 1st play of the 2d half; the primary and only backup RB shaken up badly; a starting guard shaken up and removed from the game; and the opponent's best WR shelved for the season a few weeks prior to the game, Billy Cowher, the supposed defensive mastermind, was entirely unable to stop the Titans.    


     The ignorant fan blames DeWayne Washington's roughing-the-kicker penalty as the prime reason for the loss, but the reasons were many, many more than that -- especially a defense that couldn't stop a turtle with a shotgun, and the man responsible to oversee tactics and execution was the head coach, Bilbo Cowher. 



There you have it -- 11 years of Billy Cowher's playoff futility and gross underachievement.  Poor preparation; loads of befuddlement; sloppy execution; meek, uninspired play; pitiful special teams; stubborn refusal to adjust tactics and schemes; placing players in entirely undesirable situations; and the never-ending failure to rectify glaring problems -- all a trademark of a Billy Cowher playoff team, and all comprising the reason why Cowher, along with his father, Marty Shittenheimer, are widely regarded as the worst playoff coaches in modern NFL history.  Fans saw what Marty Sr. did on Saturday, choking away yet another home-field game with ultraconservatism in the loss to the Jets.  Fans have also seen the same from Billy Cowher and his play-not-to-lose playoff antics.


In all, the Stillers have never beaten a favored team in the playoffs, and have woefully lost -- or won weakly despite playing like manure -- as a favorite several times. It's no longer a coincidence that Cowher's team has stunk and sputtered in the playoffs against vastly inferior teams -- it's a proven trend, with 11 years of proof and evidence.   No coach does less, with more, in the playoffs than Little Billy Cowher.  



(Still Mill and -- the only nationally read coverage on the Pittsburgh Stillers that has accurately predicted the how's and the why's of the past 3 Stiller playoff losses�.)


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