Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Game 16 vs. Rams
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In a game when the Steelers wanted to run the ball against the worst rush defense in the league, Mendenhall finally was able to capitalize with his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 6 against the Jaguars. Mendenhall finished with 116 yards on 18 carries, but 65 came on one touchdown drive that was highlighted by a 52-yard run -- his second-longest carry of the season. Mendenhall also had a 35-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter to set up a field goal. "We still weren't sure what they were going to do with Ben," Mendenhall said. "But we were called on more [Saturday]."
The play is called "80 Go," and it is designed to do one of two things -- hit either Mike Wallace or Antonio Brown deep down the sideline on a go route. And that's what QB Charlie Batch did in the fourth quarter -- hit Wallace streaking past CB Josh Gordy for 46 yards to the Rams 1, setting up a touchdown. The play was originally ruled a 47-yard touchdown but changed after a replay review. "He throws the perfect deep ball every time," Wallace said. "One thing you know you get with Charlie -- that's a good deep ball."
A quick look at the top performances Saturday vs. Rams:
1. ESCAPE ARTIST: It might not have been the biggest play of the game, but it was significant because the quarterback performing the escape act was Charlie Batch, not Ben Roethlisberger. On his first pass of the game, right when it appeared he would be sacked and possibly stripped of the ball by Rams DE James Hall, Batch ducked under the pressure and hit Mendenhall for a 35-yard catch-and-run to set up a field goal. "He was more nimble in the pocket than I expected," said safety Ryan Clark.
2. CLAY'S DAY: Rookie RB John Clay, signed to the active roster one day earlier, made his first NFL carry a significant one -- scoring on a 10-yard run to give the Steelers a 10-0 lead. "Too bad my family wasn't here to share it, but I know they were watching on TV," he said.
3. DOWN BY BROWN: Antonio Brown's biggest play was coming up from his return position and making a tackle on a fake punt by P Donnie Jones, stopping him 1 yard short of a first down. "I saw at the snap that he was kind of holding the ball like he was going to pass," Brown said.
4. NO TAKEAWAYS: For the second game in a row and seventh time this season, the defense did not have a takeaway. Yet it was able to register its second shutout this season because it held the Rams to 107 yards in the second half, including 38 passing.
5. HOUDINI II: Not only did Batch duck under pressure once to make a big play, he did it again in the third quarter. This time he escaped a blitz by CB Josh Gordy by ducking under the tackle and connecting with Wallace on a 20-yard catch-and-run to set up a field goal for a 13-0 lead.
RT Marcus Gilbert, who has played very well in his rookie season since replacing injured Willie Colon, did not start because he was being disciplined by coach Mike Tomlin for missing a meeting during the week. Gilbert was replaced by Jonathan Scott, who began the season as the starting left tackle. "He's going to be a really good player in this league, and he's done a lot for us to this point, but I didn't like the way he prepared this week," Tomlin said. "I wanted to make a point that it wasn't what we like."
James Farrior, on shutting out the lowest scoring team in the NFL: "That was the goal -- keep them from scoring. At the end of the day, no matter how it looked, no matter how it happened, we did it."
The number of carries between runs of 20 yards or longer for RB Rashard Mendenhall, whose 52-yard run in the second quarter was his longest since a 68-yarder in Week 6 against Jacksonville.
@ CLEVELAND BROWNS, 4:15 P.M.: The Steelers (11-4) finish the regular season in Cleveland against the Browns (4-11). The Steelers won the first meeting, 14-3, Dec. 8, giving them 15 wins in the past 16 games vs. the Browns.
First Published December 25, 2011 12:00 am