Steelers Notebook: Another big Big Ben game goes to waste
September 30, 2013 5:00 AM
The Steelers' Jerricho Cotchery catches a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter against the Vikings.
By Ed Bouchette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
LONDON -- The Steelers not only are losing, they are wasting some of the best passing games by their quarterback.
Ben Roethlisberger, although sacked five times and under constant pressure from the Minnesota Vikings defense, completed 36 of 51 passes for 383 yards. He had one touchdown, one interception and a 90.6 passer rating.
It's the first time he has topped 375 yards passing in consecutive games in his career, after he had 406 yards passing in a 34-20 loss last week to the Chicago Bears.
It was the 25th time in his career he has had a 300-yard passing game. His 51 attempts were the second most he has thrown in a game, behind only the 54 he pitched against Denver in 2006.
Roethlisberger has 3,924 career passing attempts, eclipsing Terry Bradshaw's 3,901 to add another team record to his long collection.
The Steelers might have lost another starting lineman for a stretch. Left guard Ramon Foster left the game early with a pectoral injury that will be further tested at home.
The injury prevented coach Mike Tomlin from keeping Kelvin Beachum at left tackle, where he relieved Mike Adams in the third series of the game. Adams had trouble against Minnesota's fine pass-rushing defensive end, Jared Allen, who had 2.5 sacks.
With Foster out, Beachum went to left guard on the next series and Adams returned to the game at tackle.
"Anybody else we would have put in there would have been below the line of preparation, so there's no answers in that regard," Tomlin said.
The only other active lineman was veteran Guy Whimper. If Foster is out for a stretch, Tomlin could put Beachum at left tackle and Whimper at left guard as an alternative if he wants to remove Adams. Whimper, mostly a tackle, practiced at guard in the preseason.
Among other injuries detailed by Tomlin: Rookie receiver Markus Wheaton has a broken little finger but went back into the game with it, linebacker Kion Wilson has a hamstring injury and Roethlsiberger's right index finger was injured, although he continued to play.
One small surprise in the inactives: Isaac Redman, the Steelers' highest-paid halfback, was scratched.
Redman, who will make $1.3 million this season, started the first game of the season at halfback. He was supposed to start the second game, in Cincinnati, until he was hit in the head on the opening kickoff. Felix Jones started instead, but Redman returned to play in the second quarter.
Nevertheless, Jones started the third game, presumably on merit because the Steelers never listed Redman with an injury before that game.
With rookie Le'Veon Bell active for the first time, the Steelers made Redman inactive. It means Jones and Jonathan Dwyer have moved ahead of him on the depth chart.
The Steelers cut Dwyer before the start of the season and only re-signed him after LaRod Stephens-Howling was knocked out for the season with a torn ACL in the opener. Jones was acquired by trade in the preseason from the Philadelpha Eagles.
The other Steelers inactives: QB Landry Jones, WR Derek Moye, CB Isaiah Green, CB Antwon Blake, C/G Cody Wallace and DT Hebron Fangupo.
Pass rush weak
For the third time in four games this season, the Steelers generated next to no pass rush, at least a pass rush that results in more than one sack.
They let backup quarterback Matt Cassel stand in the pocket long enough to have tea, reaching him only when LaMarr Woodley got there to knock the ball out. The Vikings recovered it.
"The offensive line did a tremendous job," Cassel said. "They gave me unbelievable time."
Cassel played in lieu of injured Christian Ponder, who hadn't produced a victory in three starts.
Allen's return poor
It was not a good return for cornerback Cortez Allen.
After missing the previous two games with a sprained ankle, Allen had trouble with coverage -- and tackling -- against the Vikings, allowing two touchdowns to wide receiver Greg Jennings.
On the third play of the second series, Jennings caught a short pass in front of Allen, cut inside him and ran down the middle of the field for a 70-yard touchdown. Curiously, after making Allen miss one tackle after the catch, he made he miss again inside the 10 when Allen chased the play.
"I take responsibility for the tackles I missed," Allen said. "I got to get better at my job. I take it personally."
Allen also was beat on Jennings' second touchdown, a 16-yard catch that made it 34-17.
"I got to be better in tackling, I got to be better in coverage," Allen said. "I let my teammates down."
600 still on hold
The 600th win in franchise history has proven ridiculously elusive for the Steelers, who started the 2012 season nine wins short. They failed to get there in 2012, and remained stuck on 599 again Sunday in London. The Chicago Bears, New York Giants and Green Bay Packers will have to wait at least another two weeks for the Steelers to join the 600 Club.
The Steelers don't play until Oct. 13 at the New York Jets.
First possession streak
For the 14th consecutive game dating to last season, the Steelers did not allow a touchdown on their opponents' first possession. They did, however, allow a long field goal that sent the Vikings on their way to a 10-0 lead.
The long end of story
Jennings' 70-yard catch-and-run to a first quarter touchdown, on which he eluded Allen, William Gay and Ike Taylor, was the seventh career touchdown catch of 70 yards or longer. The previous time he did it he was as a member of the Green Bay Packers, against Minnesota.
• John Stallworth and Franco Harris were the honorary co-captains for the Steelers, both Hall of Famers. Randall McDaniel and Ahmad Rashad were the Vikings' honorary captains.
• Since a Charlie Batch-led 13-10 victory Dec. 2 at Baltimore, the Steelers have won one of their past eight games. They've lost four in a row and nine of their previous 11.
• The Steelers, who hadn't won the time-of-possession battle in the first three games, kept the ball for more than 36 of the game's 60 minutes.
• Two rookies started their first game, Wheaton at wide receiver and Vince Williams at inside linebacker.
• Antonio Brown's 12 receptions were the most by a Steelers player in 10 seasons, back to Hines Ward's 13 Nov. 30, 2003 against Cincinnati.
• Bell became the first Steelers rookie to rush for two touchdowns in a game since Bam Morris did it Dec 4, 1994 in Cincinnati.
• LaMarr Woodley has three of the team's four sacks, picking up his third while forcing a fumble that the Vikings recovered.
• The father of Fernando Velasco, the Steelers' starting center from Wrens, Ga., near Augusta, is a native of Columbia who lives in Sweden. He made the trip here to see his son play football -- for the first time.