Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Game 4 vs. San Diego Chargers
Hines Ward hurdles over Mewelde Moore, who scores in the first half against the Chargers last night at Heinz Field.
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One week after he was punished for not knowing his plays, Mendenhall finally showed why the Steelers so eagerly drafted him in the first round in '08. He had a career-high 165 yards on 29 carries, the most rushing yards since Willie Parker had a club-record 223 yards Dec. 7, 2006. What's more, he had runs of 32 and 22 yards, the latter on the final drive that resulted in Jeff Reed's 46-yard FG, and also caught 2 passes for 26 yards. On top of that, he knocked LB Kevin Burnett out of the game with a vicious block on a blitz pick-up in the second quarter.
A quick look at the top performances from the game yesterday:
1. MEWELDE MOORE'S 6-YARD TD PASS: It seemed like little more than piling on another touchdown. Moore took a pitch from QB Ben Roethlisberger, rolled to his right and threw a perfect 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller, a play the Steelers had worked on in practice during the week. It was Moore's fourth NFL pass attempt and second for touchdown and it gave the Steelers a 35-14 lead with 7:18 remaining. But it turned out to be the winning touchdown after the Chargers closed with 21 points.
2. GATES' 30-YARD TOUCHDOWN: The Steelers tried just about everybody on tight end Antonio Gates, even LB James Harrison, but nothing worked. He caught a game-high nine passes for 124 yards, and his second TD catch made it 35-21 with 5:48 remaining.
3. LOGAN'S STRIPPED FUMBLE: It looked as though it was going to be a lopsided victory until Stefan Logan was stripped on a punt return by FB Jacob Hester, who returned the fumble 41 yards for a score to start the Chargers on their way to a 21-point fourth quarter.
4. ROETHLISBERGER'S FINAL DRIVE: In a game when he ran the offense to perfection, Roethlisberger came up with a final scoring drive when the Steelers needed it most, using 10 plays and nearly four minutes to set up Jeff Reed's 46-yard field goal.
5. REED'S CLINCHING KICK: Not that it decided the game, but the 46-yard field goal by Reed with 43 seconds remaining did more than finally seal the victory. It was an important kick for Reed, who had missed three of his past five field-goal attempts.
That's the number of minutes (and 20 seconds) the Steelers possessed the ball, running 73 plays and amassing season-highs with 497 yards and 32 first downs. It was particularly one-sided in the first half when the Steelers had the ball for nearly 23 minutes.
Mike Tomlin wasn't very consistent with his philosophy a week earlier in Cincinnati, conservatively kicking a FG from the Bengals' 1 in the first quarter then gambling on fourth-and-4 at the Bengals' 35 near the end of the half. Not this time. He set the tone in the second quarter when, leading, 14-0, he boldly opted to go on fourth-and-1 at his own 30. It kept alive a 13-play drive that resulted in a second Mendenhall rushing TD. "[Tomlin] had faith and belief in me that I'd get the first down," said Roethlisberger, who sneaked for 3 yards. "I'm a pretty big guy."
"That power play we run, me and Trai [Essex] are starting to get good chemistry on it. And Juice does a great job staying tight and knocking out that guy. If that's going to be our bread and butter, we'll stick with it." -- RT Willie Colon on the success of the counter play
The Steelers travel to Detroit for the first time since their Super Bowl XL victory, to play the Lions. Since 1966, the Steelers have lost only twice to Detroit, both times on Thanksgiving (1983 and 1998).
In two games against the Chargers last season, Parker rushed for 261 yards, mainly by bouncing a lot of runs to the outside on one of their favorite plays, Counter 34 Pike -- the play he scored on a 75-yard run in Super Bowl XL. Well, with G Chris Kemoeatu leading the way, the Steelers kept running the play over and over again last night, too. The final time came on second down at their 41, when Kemoeatu pulled from the left side and Mendenhall followed him for a 22-yard gain to the Chargers, 37 with 2:42 remaining, setting up the final points
First Published October 5, 2009 2:02 am