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Texans defense wins when offense cannot

©Associated Press
December 9, 2002

PITTSBURGH -- No NFL team ever played worse offensively and won. What made the difference was very few teams -- much less an expansion one -- have played a game like this defensively.

Aaron Glenn scored twice on long interception returns and the Texans scored their first three defensive touchdowns to stun the Steelers 24-6 Sunday.

Pittsburgh was 6-1-1 in its previous eight games yet lost to a first-year team that completed three passes and had three first downs. The Texans were outgained 422-47, the fewest yards ever by a winning team.

"To hold a team to 40-some yards, that's incredible," Steelers tackle Wayne Gandy said. "But to get 400 and some yards and still lose? I've never heard of such a game."

The Steelers lost to an expansion team in its first season for the third time since 1995. The Steelers lost to Cleveland 16-15 in 1999, only weeks after beating the Browns 43-0, and to expansion Jacksonville in 1995.

"We're not the typical expansion team," Glenn said. "We're not going to lay down and say, 'Oh, we're not supposed to win, we're an expansion team.' We have nothing to lose, we're trying to be a spoiler."

Pittsburgh's unexpected loss and Cleveland's last-play 21-20 win at Jacksonville cut the Steelers' AFC North lead over the Browns to a half-game.

Tommy Maddox couldn't have had a much worse day in his first game since being briefly paralyzed by a hit Nov. 17 in Tennessee, despite throwing for 325 yards. His fumble was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Kenny Wright on Pittsburgh's first possession, and Glenn's 70-yard interception return for a TD the next time the Steelers had the ball made it 14-0.

Later, after the Steelers couldn't turn a Jabar Gaffney fumbled punt in the fourth quarter into any points, Glenn sealed it with a 65-yard interception return touchdown -- the fifth of his career.

"This game was as simple as three plays," Maddox said. "False starts, holding penalties, they don't kill you. What kills you is turning the ball over and giving them touchdowns."

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