MIAMI -- Dolphins quarterback Pat White of West Virginia University apparently sustained no more than a concussion yesterday after he was knocked unconscious in the third quarter from a collision with Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
White, a rookie, was carted off the field on a backboard with his helmet still on -- for precautionary reasons -- and taken to a local hospital for observation. He had movement in his arms and legs, and he spoke with Dolphins medical personnel, who said he looked to be fine but that he had a concussion.
White started the second half because Miami starting quarterback Chad Henne received an eye injury late in the first half.
Taylor talked to White as they were strapping him onto the board and carrying him off.
"I said I hope he felt better, 'Hope you get better soon,' " Taylor said after a 30-24 Steelers victory at Land Shark Stadium. "You never want to see a guy get pulled off on a stretcher like that. He was talking, I [tapped] him on the foot, told him I hope he feels better. As soon as I saw him talking, I felt a little bit better."
It brought back queasy memories for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was carted off Heinz Field in the Steelers' regular-season finale a year ago.
"That was me last year at this time, and it's a scary thing," Roethlisberger said. "I got a little emotional thinking about it and seeing him. I just told him to keep his head up and everything will be OK."
Safety Ryan Clark said he wants to return and play for the Steelers in the fall, nose tackle Casey Hampton said, "We'll see," and halfback Willie Parker thanked everyone for his six seasons in Pittsburgh.
All three can become unrestricted free agents this offseason, and they were not offered a contract extension before the start of the 2009 season.
"I definitely don't want to finish this way, have my last game not even making the playoffs," Clark said. "I do [want to return]. It's a great place to play."
Parker finished with a bang, peeling off 91 yards on 12 carries -- second only this season to his 94 against Cincinnati in the third game.
"If that's the last you see of Willie Parker, first and foremost I want to thank the organization and the fans for embracing me and letting me come in and do what I did, knowing the college career I had, based on not much," Parker said. "But I came here and I really did some things and I helped this team out, with two Super Bowls. It definitely felt good to get out there and get a couple more carries."
It wasn't until the final game of the regular season that the Steelers finally netted an interception from a cornerback -- and by the same guy who got the previous one.
Deshea Townsend in the second quarter grabbed the first takeaway by a Steelers cornerback since one in the AFC championship game a year ago ... by Townsend. The equivalent of a full season, 16 games counting Super Bowl XLIII, passed in between them.
But it was only the beginning yesterday.
Clark added an interception near the goal line, and Taylor got his first of the season -- both in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers, a defense known for takeaways in previous years, had only one other game this season with as many as three interceptions: Denver eight games ago. The hat trick also swelled by 25 percent their season total to 12. Entering the game, the Steelers were third-to-last in the NFL with nine interceptions -- only Oakland and St. Louis had fewer, with eight apiece.
Only once before in the past 41 seasons, since Chuck Noll became coach in 1969, have the Steelers compiled fewer interceptions: That was one fewer, with 11, in 2007.
After the Steelers' victory and Houston's triumph against New England, that meant the Steelers needed Baltimore to lose at Oakland, the New York Jets to lose to Cincinnati and Denver to lose against the Kansas City Chiefs.
When was the previous time Oakland, Cincinnati and Kansas City won on the same NFL weekend?
On Oct. 22, 2006 -- some 61 regular-season weeks ago and 160-plus games among them.
As it turned out, the Steelers were eliminated in the first of those three games to finish, a 21-13 Baltimore victory at Oakland.
Little Stefan Logan had a big game in his homecoming to Miami. The first-year returner-receiver, a Canadian Football League émigré who a week earlier set the Steelers' single-season record for return yardage, had kickoff returns of 30 and 29 yards plus punt returns of 22 and 19 yards for a season-high 41 yards total. He also topped the team with two tackles in kickoff coverage.
Two of his returns jump-started drives to two Steelers offensive touchdowns.
It ended up quite an offensive year for the Steelers: a franchise-record 4,328 yards passing by Roethlisberger, 1,108 yards rushing by second-year back Rashard Mendenhall, 1,000-plus yards receiving by Hines Ward (1,167) and Santonio Holmes (1,248), and a career-high 76 catches for tight end Heath Miller.
"It's great for fantasy points, but we didn't win anything," Ward said. "I'd rather win. I'm toward the end of my career. I don't care about numbers. I just want to win Super Bowls."
• Holmes had one catch against Miami, leaving him with 79 for the season and one shy of joining Ward (95) as the first Steelers tandem with 80 or more receptions.
• Touchdown catches by Holmes, Miller and rookie Mike Wallace left all three tied for the team receiving lead, with six. The previous time a rookie tied for the team lead or topped the Steelers in receiving touchdowns was tight end Eric Green in 1990, with seven.
• Ward's 61 yards receiving -- on two ailing hamstrings -- moved him into a tie with Jerome Bettis for the second-most yards from scrimmage in Steelers history, with 11,377.
• The Steelers converted two of six drives inside the Miami 20 for touchdowns, meaning they settled for field goals in nine (with eight touchdowns) of their final 16 red-zone trips this season and 22 (with 27 touchdowns) of 56 overall this season
• LaMarr Woodley's two sacks gave him a career-high 13.5 this season and 25 the past two years.
• Jeff Reed's three field goals gave him 18 in his final 19 attempts this season. He made 27 of 31 for the year, two of those misses coming from 52 yards or longer.
The Steelers' final two opponents for the 2010 season were set when they finished third in the AFC North Division.
It means they will play the third-place teams from the AFC South, at Tennessee, and from the AFC West, Oakland at home.
Their home opponents for 2010: Oakland, New York Jets, New England, Carolina, Atlanta and their three AFC North foes, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Baltimore.
Their road schedule: Tennessee, Miami, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, New Orleans and their three AFC North foes.
Linebacker Jason Taylor of Swissvale and Woodland Hills High became just the fourth Dolphins player to start a game in three different decades.
One of the other three: Dan Marino of Central Catholic and Pitt. His final regular season was 1999, but he started playoff games in January 2000 before retiring.
Bob Griese and Larry Little were the others.
The pregame ceremonies included a birthday celebration.
The Dolphins commemorated Hall of Fame coach Don Shula's 80th birthday, which is today. A lot of beautiful people were on hand for the festivities: members of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, actress Robin Givens, tennis star Serena Williams, singer Fergie along with some celebrities who also are part-owners of the Dolphins -- Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez.
Brett Keisel (stinger) was replaced at starting defensive end by Nick Eason and Chris Kemoeatu (wrist), who dressed for the first time in three games, again was supplanted by Ramon Foster.
In addition, safety Troy Polamalu (knee) missed his seventh consecutive game and 11th this season. Wide receiver Joey Galloway was scratched from the third game since he was signed.
Other inactives for the Steelers: cornerback Trae Williams, guard Kraig Urbik, tackle Tony Hills, defensive end Sunny Harris and quarterback Charlie Batch.
The Dolphins' inactives were: cornerback Evan Oglesby, offensive lineman Andrew Hartline, tackle Andrew Gardner, receiver Patrick Turner and defensive ends Lionel Dotson, Ryan Baker and Ikaika Alama-Francis.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at email@example.com . Ron Cook and Chuck Finder of the Post-Gazette contributed to this report. First Published January 4, 2010 5:00 AM