Jerome Abram Bettis, nicknamed "The Bus" is a former American football halfback for the NFL's Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. Bettis is considered one of the best big backs ever due to his amazing footwork and sheer power, and is fifth on the National Football League's all-time rushing list. Bettis weighed at a solid 275lbs at 5-10. He retired in 2006 after a Super Bowl victory.
Early Career: Los Angeles Rams Edit
A star in his rookie year, he rushed for 1,429 yards in 1993, and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year. He quickly earned the nickname The Battering Ram. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons with the Rams.
Pittsburgh Steelers Edit
Bettis rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons with the Steelers between 1996 and 2001. Included in that run were three seasons of over 1,300 yards. In 1997, Bettis rushed for a career-best 1,665 yards in the team's first 15 games. However, because the team had already wrapped up its playoff position, he was rested for the regular season finale and finished 25 yards short of the team's single-season record.
Injuries, Its Effects and Rebound Edit
Bettis was leading the league with 1,072 rushing yards in 2001 when he suffered an injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season. Injuries would also cost him part of the 2002 season and he then began the 2003 season as a backup to Amos Zereoue. Despite regaining his starting role midway through the 2003 season, Bettis again found himself a backup to start the 2004 season, this time to Duce Staley. But when an injury took Staley out of action mid-way through the year, Bettis stepped in and gained 100+ yards in six of the next eight games and would have likely topped 1,000 yards for the season if not for the decision to rest him in the Steelers' meaningless final regular season game. The remarkable late season effort led to the sixth Pro-Bowl berth of his career.
Bettis spent the 2005 season as a full-time short yardage running back, but managed two memorable games along the way: First, a 101 yard, two touchdown effort in a pivotal week 14 win over Chicago (his second-to-last game in Pittsburgh) that is often remembered for a play in which he ran over Bears' linebacker Brian Urlacher on the goal line during a heavy snow squall. And then second, his three touchdowns in a win over Detroit to clinch a playoff berth on the last day of the season (his last game in Pittsburgh). He would finish the season and his career as the NFL's 5th leading all-time rusher.
2006 Playoffs: Victory at Last Edit
The Steelers finished second in their division and qualified for the postseason as the sixth seeded team in the AFC.
In the Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Jerome Bettis rushed for 52 yards and one touchdown to help the Steelers beat the Bengals by a score of 31-17. In the divisional playoff games against the first seed Indianapolis Colts, Bettis rushed for 41 yards and another touchdown. When the Steelers took possession of the ball on the Indianapolis 2 yard line with 1:20 remaining in the game after Joey Porter sacked Payton Manning on fourth down. Victory was almost certain as the Steelers lead 21-18. The first play from scrimmage went to the sure handed Bettis, who had not fumbled once the entire year. As Bettis ran towards the end zone, Colts linebacker Gary Brackett popped the ball out of Jerome's hands, where it was picked up by cornerback Nick Harper, who was stopped from returning the fumble all the way for a touchdown by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Ultimately, however, Bettis's mistake did not result in a Steelers loss, as Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard game-tying field goal, ending the game with a 21-18 Steelers victory. The AFC Championship game matched the Steelers up with the second seeded Denver Broncos. Bettis rushed for 35 yards this time and scored yet another touchdown as the Steelers easily beat the Broncos 34-17. Super Bowl XL had the Steelers faceing off against the Seattle Seahawks. Bettis rushed for 43 yards on 14 carries as the Steelers beat Seattle 21-10.
When asked about the possibility of retirement, Bettis announced, "It's been an incredible ride. I played this game to win a championship. I'm a champion, and I think the Bus' last stop is here in Detroit." Thus, Jerome Bettis officially announced his retirement standing on the champions' podium, holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Hines Ward, the MVP of the game, said during the Super Bowl commercial; "I'm going to Disney World and I'm taking The Bus!"