Brett Favre's head bounced off Three Rivers Stadium's steamy-hot carpet and an entire Wisconsin city held its collective breath.
Kevin Greene felt something snap in his right hand, and momentarily feared his season - and, maybe, Pittsburgh's, too - was ruined.Coaches and players alike say exhibition games mean nothing, but the Green Bay Packers' 36-13 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday almost meant everything to the two 1994 playoff teams.
It nearly ruined them for 1995.
Favre, the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback coming off a 3,882-yard season, left with a concussion after being leveled in the second quarter by All-Pro linebacker Greg Lloyd's blindside hit. Obviously, the injury could have been much worse.
"Hopefully, it will feel better in a couple of days," said Favre, who threw a touchdown pass before leaving. "They say it's a mild concussion."
Lloyd's hit, delivered with his right shoulder, forearm and the top of the helmet, was borderline dirty, according to Packers coach Mike Holmgren. He might have been more expressive if Favre had been more badly hurt.
"Every team is worried about losing their quarterback," Holmgren said. "Lloyd is a great player, but it was close."
Former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer replaced Favre and finished the day completing 15 of 22 passes for 151 yards. He also threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Thomason.
The game wasn't - it was the Steelers' worst preseason loss since they moved into Three Rivers Stadium in 1970 - but the score alone wasn't all that was bad for Pittsburgh.
Greene, the All-Pro linebacker and 1994 NFL sacks leader, broke his right hand during the second quarter and won't play again in the preseason. And Pittsburgh's top receiver, Charles Johnson, sprained an ankle and might also be sidelined for a few days.
In fact, there was virtually no good news on the oppressively hot 93-degree day, said defensive end Brentson Buckner, "Except a lot of guys lost a lot of weight. If you weren't in shape, you are now."
Greene's hand was placed in a cast, but he promised to be ready for the Sept. 3 opener against Detroit, even if he doesn't yet know how effectively he can fight off blockers.
"A linebacker without his hands is like a running back without his feet," Greene said.
Or, in the Steelers' case, an offense without the ball.
Maybe it was their own mental mistakes, or maybe it was the heat, or maybe it was the Packers defense, but the Steelers committed five turnovers and also were flagged for holding in the end zone, a safety.
Afterward, the Steelers admitted they did not hold up under either the heat of the day or that applied by the Packers defense.
"And we let them score touchdowns after the turnovers," coach Bill Cowher said. "I really wasn't pleased with anything. It was a very poor effort all the way around, and it starts at the top."
Actually, it started when Neil O'Donnell's pass tipped off Ernie Mills' hands into those of Green Bay's LeRoy Butler, who returned the gift interception 29 yards for a 7-0 lead at 3:10 of the first quarter.
O'Donnell wasn't all that bad, going 11-for-14 for 123 yards while playing all but one play of the first half. But the Steelers trailed 20-7 when he left, and it got no better behind Mike Tomczak and Jim Miller in the second half.