Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill
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goes to: WR Hines Ward
Mike Wallace might have led the team with nine catches and 89 yards, but Ward made all the necessary big plays, especially when the offense kept trying to fight back from a 21-3 deficit. Consider the touchdown drive at the end of the first half when he caught three passes for 37 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown. He had three more catches in the second half, including a 15-yard catch on second-and-18 to set up Wallace's 25-yard touchdown catch. "I thought it was going to be one of those magical moments," Ward said. It wasn't to be.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
15: That's the number of consecutive games in which the Steelers have scored at least 20 points -- the longest streak in NFL history. The next longest streak is 12, held by the Dallas Cowboys (1992-96).
WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
Linebacker Keyaron Fox is the Steelers' special teams captain, but he is an unrestricted free agent and probably won't be brought back, not after another senseless penalty on special teams. Fox committed a personal foul after Antonio Brown's kick return to the 26, pushing the Steelers back to their 13 with 1:59 left. Those kinds of penalties have been common for Fox this season. "We can't do that," said Ward. "We're getting the ball at the 30 and, next thing you know, we're backed at the 10. We knew we had to play perfect ball to beat them."
"I was a step off here and there and we didn't make plays. We were unable to get any turnovers on defense; that was the difference. They made plays on defense and we didn't. They played a great team game. They're deserving of Super Bowl champs."
-- S Troy Polamalu
X's AND O's
The biggest play in the game came on third-and-10 from the Steelers 40 when QB Aaron Rodgers hit WR Jordy Nelson on a crossing pattern in which Nelson ran 38 yards to the Steelers 2, setting up what would be the winning touchdown with 11:57 remaining. But, on the play, the Steelers ran a fire-zone blitz off the left side with two cornerbacks -- Bryant McFadden and William Gay. The Packers picked up the blitz, leaving Nelson wide open in the middle of the field against linebackers James Farrior and James Harrison. "It's like they were a hair faster than we were all night," safety Ryan Clark said.
A quick look at the top performances from Sunday's game:
1 - BEN'S PICKS: It was bad enough when Ben Roethlisberger had a wobbly pass returned 37 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0. But when he tried to jam the ball into Mike Wallace, and Wallace did a poor job of fighting for the ball, it resulted in another interception. The Packers needed just four plays to make it 21-3. "There are a lot of throws I'd like to have back," Roethlisberger said. "I feel like I let the city of Pittsburgh down, my coaches and teammates down. It's not a good feeling."
2 - FUMBLED OPPORTUNITY: Despite rushing for 63 yards and scoring on an 8-yard run, Rashard Mendenhall's fumble at the Packers 33 at the start of the fourth quarter ended an opportunity to at least cut the deficit to a point. Instead, the turnover led to the Packers' final touchdown.
3 - NOT TAYLOR MADE: CB Ike Taylor did a good job isolating on WR Greg Jennings except for one play -- a 31-yard pass from Rodgers to Jennings on third-and-10 when the Steelers needed a stop. Instead, the play led to the Packers final field goal.
4 - COMING BACK: The Steelers started their comeback on the final drive of the first half when, on third-and-10 at the Packers 40, Ward caught a 14-yard pass to keep alive a drive that would end with his 8-yard TD catch over CB Jarrett Bush.
5 - GETTING CLOSE: It looked as though the Steelers had put themselves in good position for another miraculous comeback when Mike Wallace got behind CB Sam Shields for a 25-yard TD catch down the sideline that made it 28-25 with 7:34 remaining.
First Published February 7, 2011 12:55 am