Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Game Five vs. Jaguars
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Anyone who would watch Ben Roethlisberger throw -- that is, pretend to throw -- in practice Friday would never think he could play as he did against the Jaguars. Roethlisberger missed two days of practice, received an injection in his sore right shoulder Thursday and never threw anything more than 5-yard lobs in practice Friday. In fact, on some pass plays, he held the ball in his left hand and merely imitated a pass with his right. But it didn't bother him against the Jaguars, coming back after an early TD interception return and throwing for 309 yards and three TDs.
A quick look at the top performances from the victory last night:
1. ROETHLISBERGER'S 18-YARD PASS TO HINES WARD: If there was ever a play that epitomized a performance, it was Roetlisberger's unlikely pass to Ward on third-and-8 when it appeared he would be sacked by defensive tackle Rob Meier. Instead, as he was being tugged to the turf, Roethlisberger managed to throw an 18-yard pass over the middle to Ward to the Jaguars' 13 with 2:07 left, keeping alive an 11-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in the winning touchdown. The pass was so awkward that it aggravated Roethlisberger's already sore shoulder.
2. WARD'S WINNING 8-YARD TOUCHDOWN CATCH: In a game in which he had three dropped passes, Ward did what he always seems to do -- make big plays at big times. The final one was a 8-yard touchdown catch behind Jaguars safety Brian Williams in the corner of the end zone with 1:53 remaining.
3. NATE WASHINGTON'S 48-YARD TOUCHDOWN CATCH: It wasn't just that Roethlisberger's pump-fake froze cornerback William James and allowed Washington to flash open on a stop-and-go route. The touchdown was significant because it gave the Steelers their first lead of the game, 17-14.
4. RYAN CLARK'S LATE-HIT PENALTY ON AN INCOMPLETE PASS: The Steelers were clinging to a 20-14 lead when Clark slammed into WR Matt Jones after an incomplete pass on second-and-16. His penalty gave the Jaguars a first down at the Steelers' 24 and they scored on the next play for a 21-20 lead.
5. IKE TAYLOR'S PASS-INTERFERENCE PENALTY IN THE END ZONE: It was a debatable call because it looked as though Taylor did not contact receiver Matt Jones until the ball was already out of his reach. Nonetheless, it allowed Maurice Jones-Drew to score on a 1-yard TD run on the next play for a 14-7 lead.5
That's the number of runs of 15 yards or longer against the Jaguars, which, curiously, is one more than the Steelers managed in the first four games combined. Mewelde Moore had runs of 27 and 19 yards and Gary Russell had a 15-yarder against the Jaguars.
What a great way to start a game on the road -- with a 19-yard run by Mewelde Moore, a guy making his first start in three years. So, try some more runs, right? Absolutely not. The Steelers then called four consecutive pass plays, the last of which saw Ben Roethlisberger's pass intended for Santonio Holmes get intercepted by cornerback Rashean Mathis and returned 72 yards for a touchdown -- the third touchdown return by Mathis in the past five games against the Steelers. This one, though, had a better ending.
"Man I love 'em all, truth be known. This is the most satisfying because it's the one you're feeling right now. I'm sure there will be more satisfying wins down the road." -- Coach Mike Tomlin on the comeback victory
The Steelers have dominated this series, winning the past seven games in Paul Brown Stadium, including playoffs. The Steelers are off this week; the Bengals play at the New York Jets.X's and O's
The biggest question to be asked after the comeback victory is not how the Steelers managed to beat the Jaguars with five starters out of the lineup and a sore-armed QB with one day of practice under his belt. Rather, it's why in the world was Mewelde Moore not used sooner? In his first start in three years, all he did was rush for 99 yards, have four carries longer than 10 yards and catch three passes for 17 yards. This from a player who was rarely used in the first three games, carrying just one time for 6 yards.
First Published October 6, 2008 1:45 am