Steelers Throwback Thursdays: Troy Polamalu’s Fingertip Interception

Before the NFL officially gears up for the 2022-23 season, Steel City Underground will be taking fans back in time to feature events, special moments, and historical times in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit these moments in our “Throwback Thursdays”.

On April 10, 2015, Troy Polamalu retired from the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his decorative career with the Steelers, there were many incredible plays that he made.

This interception stands out as one of those many highlight-reel interceptions.

On November 16, 2008, the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field in a late afternoon game. Pittsburgh started the season strong and were coming into the day with an overall record of 6-3.

The Chargers controlled the ball first and got a first down after a LaDainian Tomlinson run and two Philip Rivers passes.

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On 1st-and-10 at the Chargers 45, Rivers tries his hand again for a third-straight completion as he drops back and throws at Vincent Jackson ten yards downfield. The ball hits Jackson in his core, and the ball pops up in the air as Ike Taylor tackles him.

The ball then seems to float in mid-air as Troy Polamalu makes an acrobatic leap to try and catch it.

Even CBS announcer Jim Nantz had thought that the ball fell incomplete. However, the referees allowed play to continue: and thankfully so.

Just as it was inches from the ground, Polamalu scoops up the ball with a mere couple of fingertips. In true Troy-fashion, he attempts to return the pick and gains 21 yards.

The play would be challenged, of course, but it was was upheld and considered an interception. A couple of off-setting penalties changed where the ball was eventually placed, but the play turned the tide for the Steelers.

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In the closing moments of the same game, Polamalu would strike again, seemingly taking a Chargers fumble to the house. However, the referees would rule against the legality of the play and it was challenged by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

Both plays were significant, as the Steelers went on to win a tight game by the final (baseball) score of 11-10.

They would meet the Chargers once more in the Wild Card round of the playoffs that season, defeating them and going all the way on to beat the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl later that same season.

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