1994 Remembered

I remember like it was yesterday, standing in front of my TV, the kids locked in their Rooms, the fiancé (at that time) at work. The house was quiet, shhhhhh, you could not hear a word, and then the play, the play that made Charger History, the Play that made every Charger Fan in history fall in Love with Bobby Ross and thank him for doing something that even the great Coryell did not do. That one instant in time where all of San Diego froze and took a deep breath at the same time.

Fourth down and goal on the 3 yard line, San Diego leading 17-13, Pittsburgh drove the ball down the field, Neil O'Donnell goes back to pass, he sees Barry Foster open over the middle, he throws a quick pass, Dennis Gibson Dives and deflects the ball, "THE GAME IS OVER, THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS HAVE JUST DEFEATED THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS TO WIN THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP, THE CHARGERS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL." That is what they were screaming on the TV and radio, the amazing 1994 Chargers have done it, they did something that they were told they could not do, they won the AFC Championship.

Goose pimples, Goose bumps and what ever goose was crawling hit me at that moment. I could not believe it. MY Chargers, the team that I loved so much and that I backed all season long is headed to the Super Bowl. I get goose bumps today just thinking about it. I don't think any fan in San Diego will ever forget Gibson and what he did for this team in that year.

How did we get to that moment though, for all the "old Timers" or "Hard core" fans as some like to call us, it was the greatest moment in Charger history. We all know though we almost did not make it, that Blitzburgh defense was crushing that day; San Diego could barely move the ball.

The first half was merciless, the Steelers out gained the Chargers 229 yards to 46. Stan Humphries did not have time to blow his nose let alone pass the ball. Natrone Means was not making any yards on the ground; the only good thing was the Steelers were only leading 10-nothing at the half. Things Changed in the 3rd Quarter, I don't know what Bobby Ross said that day but what ever he said changed Charger history forever.

The Chargers Drove down the field and kicked a field goal to make it 13-3, down by 10 but not out, The Chargers defense stiffened, then the tide turned.

Stan Humphries Drops back to Pass, Tony Martin (his favorite target) was covered, so he looks to his right and flying down the sideline alone is Alfred Pupunu the Tight end. Humphries zips it to him in stride and Pupunu streaks in for a TD, and brings the game to 13-10. I jumped out of my seat and hollered like I was there, I was waving my bolt towel around, the neighbors were screaming in yelling, we just knew it, that was the moment we knew that this game could be ours. The Steelers players were stunned, they panned across the benches and they all had a look of bewilderment like they did not know what just happened. Well, that look would get worse for the Chargers were not done.

The defense held Pittsburgh to a three and out. They punted the ball and we got the ball at the 20, and out came the man, Stan the Man. You can just imagine that huddle, I close my eyes and just try to think of what he said to those players that day, "Guys, were only down 3, and they're tired, this is our time, let's do this not only for us, but for our Fans". I can dream, everyone wants to hear their let's do this for the Gipper moment and that was mine.

Humphries and the boys get us to the Steelers 43, where we get stopped for a 3rd and long, The Steelers looked like they were going to Blitz, Everyone in San Diego knew they were going to Blitz, Everyone in Pittsburgh knew it, heck everyone in the National TV audience knew it, and they did not let us down. Stan calls for the ball and sure enough Pittsburgh Blitzes, but, The Chargers pick it up and that leaves Tony Martin Isolated 1 on 1 with Tim McKyer the Steeler defensive back. Martin Ran past McKyer like he was standing still, Humphries hits him in stride, TOUCHDOWN SAN DIEGO, I jumped out of my seat with tears in my eyes, we took the lead.

Could this be it, could this be the time for this team to finally get out of the annuals of teams that are have never made it to the Super Bowl? Would their Glory years of the old AFL days finally carry over? Not yet, the Steelers still had a chance; they were due the ball with plenty of time left on the clock.

Neil O'Donnell, not the most loved man in Steeler history, took control of his teams' offense and drove them down to the 10 yard line, a Field goal would not do it, and they needed a TD to win the game.

I was cussing and throwing my hat all over the place. How can this Defense hold like they did and now let Pittsburgh drive to the 3 yard line with a Pass from O'Donnell to Eric Green? It was time, Standing on my feet, holding my breath, rocking back and forth, O'Donnell calls for the ball, he drops back, Pittsburgh's front 4 is holding back the Chargers Defense, Barry Foster breaks open across the middle of the end zone, O'Donnell lets it rip, you know he just knows it's a TD.

Mere seconds are left on the Clock, The City of San Diego has one collective heartbeat, and then it happened, the Play, Dennis Gibson dove to his right and got his hand on the O'Donnell pass and knocked the ball away. I dropped to my knees, tears in my eyes. This Team, that I have celebrated with, cheered for, cried with, and was tormented by year after year of making the playoffs and not going anywhere, Air Coryell the most prolific offense in Football History never got us there, it took a Hard nosed get in your Face Coach from College football to lead this team to its most Glorifying moment.

I was there when the Chargers Came back to town, I was one of the 100,000 that met them at the Q, I was there for the tears of Humphries and Ross, as they held the Trophy up and said this was for the Fans, I danced and celebrated with everyone else in that stadium, wearing my number 12 Jersey, thanking him for leading this team to victory. We may of lost the Super Bowl but we got there, that was something they said we would never do and we proved them wrong.

I know there are probably a lot more memorable games in San Diego history; Miami vs. San Diego, Kellen Winslow being carried off the field, but to me the greatest moment in San Diego history was that day 8 years ago, when our Boys gave us the greatest gift a football fan could want, The AFC championship and a Chance to go to the Super Bowl.

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