STEELERS NOTEBOOK: Roethlisberger happy to take no-huddle offense on the road


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CINCINNATI -- Ben Roethlisberger often has said how much he enjoys running the no-huddle offense, so when Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians floated the idea to him late in the third quarter of Sunday's Steelers-Bengals game, he treated it like a rhetorical question.

"He came to me and said 'Do you want to do it?" Roethlisberger said, "and I said, 'Absolutely, you don't have to ask me twice.'"

The decision to go no-huddle turned out to be a good one as the Steelers, who had just watched the Bengals score to tie the game at 17-17, took the field at their 19 and drove 81 yards on 11 plays, scoring what turned out to be the winning touchdown on a 9-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall.

Roethlisberger said it was the first time the Steelers had used the no-huddle on the road this season. He said it came at the perfect time because the offense needed a spark.

"That was kind of the mentality, let's go no-huddle and see if we can get down there, let's answer," Roethlisberger said. "We take pride in wanting to be the best and that was our time to do it, to step up and score. We always want to answer.

"We needed [the no-huddle]. We did a good job with it last week and it was just time, time to step up and change the pace a little bit and I think we spread it around pretty good in that no-huddle."

Roethlisberger said it is tougher to run the no-huddle on the road because of the crowd noise. There are a lot of calls that the players have to hear and if even a single player isn't on the same page, it can cause confusion and mistakes.

"When you go down the field like that, those are the ones you are proud of the guys," Roethlisberger said. "It was loud and we are calling stuff out and I don't think we had any miscommunications, so that was good."

Miller OK with hit

Heath Miller caught an 18-yard pass in the first quarter that gave the Steelers a first-and-goal at the Bengals 2, but he paid a big price for the catch as he took a vicious hit from Bengals safety Reggie Nelson.

There was some discussion that the hit might be an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit which often results in a fine, but Miller said he didn't think it was, nor was it a penalty.

"It was a good hit," Miller said. "I was fortunate to hang on to the ball and keep the drive going. I don't think [Nelson led with his helmet], most of the blow was in my chest, but you guys probably saw the replay better, I don't really know."

Closing the game

Last Sunday against Baltimore the Steelers had a four-point lead late in the fourth quarter and let the Ravens drive 92 yards and score the winning touchdown.

So when the Bengals took possession at their 8 late in the game on Sunday, needing a touchdown to tie the score, it seemed like déjà vu, especially when Cincinnati began driving down the field.

But the defense held and forced the Bengals to punt and then on the Bengals next possession, William Gay slammed the door shut with a big interception.

"It feels great to be out there on defense and be able to get a turnover at a really big time in the game," safety Troy Polamalu said. "[Finishing] is always a focus of ours and we know that no matter what, the game is always going to come down to making plays at the very end of the game, that is just the nature of how we win games. It was nice to get over the hump after losing last week."

Cotchery improving

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery had two receptions, including his first touchdown of the season, and could have had at least one more but his 24-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was called back because of an interference penalty on Miller.

"He's a savvy, veteran guy," coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's a guy that we've been excited about having since the day we acquired him. He had some things to slow him down early in the process [a hamstring injury] but he's been the consummate professional throughout all of it. He's prepared himself and you guys are just starting to see the signs of that preparation.

"We've been extremely pleased with him."

Quick hits

• Rookie quarterbacks are now 1-13 against the Steelers since Dick LeBeau returned as defensive coordinator in 2004. However, Bengals rookie Andy Dalton impressed Roethlisberger in defeat. "He spins the ball really well," Roethlisberger said of Dalton. "He knows what is going on out there, I think he is playing the best of the rookie quarterbacks."

• The Steelers are now 10-1 in Paul Brown Stadium.

• Polamalu had a chance to knock down the Bengals first touchdown pass -- from Dalton to rookie A.J. Green -- but didn't react to the ball. "I saw the ball well, actually," he said, "I just wasn't aggressive enough. I felt [like he could knock it down] but, obviously, I didn't."

Inactives

Inactive for the Steelers were quarterback Dennis Dixon, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, defensive linemen Chris Hoke and Al Woods, offensive tackle Jamon Meredith and wide receivers Arnaz Battle and Emmanuel Sanders.

Inactive for the Bengals were defensive backs Adam "Pac-Man" Jones and Robert Sands, linebacker Dontay Moch, offensive lineman Clint Boling, tight end Donald Lee, wide receiver Ryan Whalen and defensive end Carlos Dunlap.


Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720.


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