Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Game One vs. Titans
Steelers Ben Roethlisberger celebrates after scoring the team''s first touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the second quarter.
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He has done it so many times that it's almost expected. And, after bringing his team back to victory six times last season, he did it again last night, engineering the winning drive in overtime by completing 5 of 7 passes for 60 yards. Roethlisberger finished with 363 yards passing, the third-highest total of his career. And, after a slow start, he completed four passes in a row for 79 yards that gave the Steelers their first touchdown, a 34-yard pass to Santonio Holmes, in the second quarter.
A quick look at the top performances from yesterday's loss:
1. HOLMES TO THE RESCUE ... AGAIN: It didn't seem to matter that he missed the last two preseason games and might have been a little off his timing in the season opener. The Super Bowl MVP looked just like he did in Tampa, Fla., catching nine passes for 131 yards to lead all receivers on a night when three players had eight or more catches. His biggest was a 34-yard touchdown that gave the Steelers a 7-0 lead, a play in which he slipped behind two safeties. But his 11-yard catch on third-and-2 in overtime kept alive the winning field-goal drive.
2. HINES WARD'S LATE FUMBLE: He finished with eight catches for 103 yards, his biggest performance since Week 14 against Baltimore in 2008. But, just when it appeared he might win the game, he nearly gave it away when he fumbled at the Titans' 4 after a 30-yard catch with 51 seconds remaining.
3. TITANIC GAFFES: Not only did reliable kicker Rob Bironas miss a 37-yard field goal, but defensive end Aaron Smith blocked a 31-yarder in the second quarter. The Steelers turned right around and went 79 yards in five plays.
4. TROY POLAMALU'S ONE-HANDED INTERCEPTION: Among the several stunning plays turned in by the Pro Bowl safety, none was as awesome as the one-handed interception he made with his left arm, leaping high to foil a deep pass to Titans receiver Kenny Britt at the 5-yard line.
5. ANOTHER JEFF REED WINNER: The Steelers kicker is making a habit of delivering walk-off field goals, and he did it for the ninth time in his career (including playoffs) when he kicked the 33-yard winner in overtime. Of Reed's nine winners, three have come in overtime. Pay the man, Art.
Inside the numbers: 36
That's the number of rushing yards turned in by the Steelers, who averaged 1.6 yards on 23 carries and never had a run longer than 8 yards against the Titans. That is their lowest rushing total since Week 3 last season, when they had 33 yards rushing in Philadelphia.
What was he thinking?
It might have been the biggest unexpected fumble since Jerome Bettis almost gave away the 2005 playoff game in Indianapolis. After a 30-yard catch in which he weaved his way to the Titans' 4 with 51 seconds remaining, Ward appeared to give the Steelers a chance to win in regulation. But Titans safety Michael Griffin stripped the ball and LB Stephen Tulloch recovered. "You always tell me plays like that happen, keep your head up," Holmes said he told Ward. "That's what I gave him -- the same advice that he gave me."
"Ben does a great job when things break down and, you give him time down there, he shakes tackles and sacks. He's going to make plays and that's what he did."
-- Titans coach Jeff Fisher on Ben Roethlisberger
It will be their first appearance in Chicago since the 1995 season, when Neil O'Donnell led a comeback victory that propelled the team to the Super Bowl.
Rookie WR Mike Wallace, a third-round pick from Ole Miss, had such a strong training camp that he apparently wrested the No. 3 receiving role away from Limas Sweed. Wallace was used as the third receiver for nearly the entire game and finished with three catches for 32 yards, though Roethlisberger underthrew him twice. But there was no misfire in overtime when Wallace made his biggest contribution of the night, catching a 22-yard pass over the middle to the Titans' 15, setting up Jeff Reed's winning 33-yard field goal with 10:28 remaining.
First Published September 11, 2009 2:33 am