Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Steelers 15, Falcons 9


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Game ball goes to: Rashard Mendenhall

In a game in which the Steelers wanted to make sure they were able to run the ball to keep the pressure off QB Dennis Dixon, nobody ran the ball better than Rashard Mendenhall. Not only did he win the game with a walk-off 50-yard touchdown run in overtime, he finished with 120 yards on 22 carries against a Falcons defense that was stacked to take away the run. It was the second-longest run of Mendenhall's career and his fourth 100-yard game in 13 career starts.

X's and O's

The play is called "22 Double," one of the Steelers' bread-and-butter running plays, and Mendenhall hit it just the way it is designed -- for a 50-yard walk-off touchdown on the Steelers' first play of overtime. Mendenhall ran behind blocks by WR Hines Ward on S Thomas DeCoud and TE David Johnson on OLB Mike Peterson and beat S Erik Coleman down the sideline. "You get one-on-one with a defensive back, you want to win those," said Mendenhall, who finished with a game-high 120 yards on 22 carries.

The Countdown

A quick look at the top performances Sunday from the game:

1 TROY'S PLOY: Falcons WR Roddy White finished with 13 catches for 111 yards, tying for the most catches by an opposing receiver in Steelers history. But, when QB Matt Ryan tried another sideline throw to White with 1:45 remaining, the Steelers switched to zone coverage and S Troy Polamalu made a dazzling interception at the Atlanta 30. "It was something we talked about, but it's one thing to talk about it and another thing to make it work," said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. "It was all Troy."

2 REED RIGHT: K Jeff Reed had a chance to kick his ninth game-winning field goal, but he missed a 40-yard attempt with 39 seconds remaining in regulation when the ball faded right. Reed missed a 55-yarder in the second half that hit the right upright.

3 HINES SHINES: Ward had six catches for 108 yards -- his team-record 26th 100-yard receiving game -- but his 24-yard catch that he tipped to himself on third-and-8 was the big play on a drive that resulted in Reed's 34-yard FG and a 9-6 Steelers lead.

4 BIG PLAYS: Mike Wallace wanted more action after catching just two passes, but one was a 52-yarder in which he got behind S Erik Coleman to the Falcons 26, setting up the second of Reed's three FGs." That was huge," said offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

5 No. 1,000: TE Tony Gonzalez had to wait a little while to become the first tight end in NFL history to have 1,000 career catches, but he did it in the third quarter when his first reception was a 20-yarder to set up the second of Matt Bryant's three FGs.

9 ... Inside the Number

The number of consecutive games in which OLB LaMarr Woodley has registered at least one sack. Woodley's sack on QB Matt Ryan in the first quarter -- one of two by the Steelers -- gave him 12 1/2 sacks in those nine games.

What was he thinking?

With 17 seconds remaining in the first half, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin elected to have Jeff Reed, who kicked a 52-yard field goal in the first half, attempt a 55-yarder. When Reed's kick missed after hitting the right upright, the Falcons got possession at their own 45. They needed only three plays to kick a 49-yard field goal and tie the score at 3-3 with no time remaining. "I'm always comfortable giving him the opportunity to put points on the board, particularly in a situation where we thought points might be scarce."


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Overheard

"We wanted to show them something they hadn't seen. Troy's zero-to-60 is so fast, there aren't many balls he can't get to."

-- CB Bryant McFadden on the play where the Steelers changed to zone defense and S Troy Polamalu intercepted Matt Ryan with 1:40 remaining

NEXT SUNDAY'S OPPONENT

@ TENNESSEE TITANS, 1 P.M. SUNDAY: The Steelers have not had a lot of success in Nashville. Since the franchise moved from Houston in 1996, the Steelers are 1-8 on the road against Tennessee and have lost their past four games there.


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com .


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