Steelers Notebook: Wallace gets his catches early, often
Mike Wallace hauls in an 81-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter against the Colts Sunday in Indianapolis.
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Wallace extended his team record for consecutive 100-yard games in the regular season and he did it in the first quarter Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
Wallace had three receptions for 129 yards in the first quarter alone, including an 81-yard touchdown catch, and finished with five receptions for 144 yards. That pass completion was the longest for the Steelers since Santonio Holmes caught one for 83 yards against St. Louis in 2007.
The pass against the Colts was the third-longest play of Ben Roethlisberger's career. His longest was an 85-yard touchdown to Hines Ward against New England in 2005.
Roethlisberger had his best first quarter for passing yards, 171, in his career, completing 8 of 12 throws.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison had his best game of the season. It wasn't just his sack and forced fumble of Colts quarterback Curtis Painter in the fourth quarter that led to safety Troy Polamalu's fumble recovery and 16-yard touchdown return. He was credited with a team-best seven tackles, including two for losses.
"This was the best I've felt all season," said Harrison, who had two back surgeries in the offseason.
Not only was Indianapolis missing quarterback Peyton Manning, but three of the Colts' starters on defense were scratched because of injuries, along with their starting right guard.
The inactive Colts starters included strong safety Melvin Bullitt, middle linebacker Gary Brackett, defensive tackle Fili Moala and guard Ryan Diem. The other inactive Colts were Manning, cornerback Kevin Thomas and linebacker Ernie Sims.
For the Steelers, cornerback Bryant McFadden did not suit up even though he practiced all week and was not listed as injured. He missed the second game of the season with a hamstring injury that has been bothering him since the beginning of training camp. William Gay made his second consecutive start at left cornerback and Keenan Lewis entered when they used the nickel defense.
Veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery missed his third game with a hamstring injury, even though he, too, practiced most of the week. The other inactives for the Steelers -- quarterback Dennis Dixon, halfback Jonathan Dwyer, offensive tackles Jamon Meredith and Chris Scott and defensive end Brett Keisel.
In addition to the three defensive starters for the Colts who were inactive, the team changed starters at strong-side linebacker, where Philip Wheeler replaced Pat Angerer.
Tomlin listed the following injuries -- offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (shoulder), guard Doug Legursky (shoulder) and special-team ace Arnaz Battle (hamstring). He did not indicate if any were serious. When asked about offensive tackle Jonathan Scott, who left the game late with what appeared to be an ankle injury, Tomlin said he had no information.
Before the game Sunday night on NBC, analyst Bob Costas interviewed Steelers coach Tomlin and they talked about the Steelers opening 35-7 loss to Baltimore. Costas asked Tomlin if that would effect his team the rest of the season.
"Good teams don't have performances like that," was included in Tomlin's reply.
An 11-yard pass Kerry Collins flipped to Reggie Wayne on a slant pattern early in the second quarter was the 800th catch of the gifted Colts wideout's brilliant career.
It was the first of two statistical milestones expected to fall to legendary wide receivers Sunday night. The Steelers' Hines Ward needed just 33 receiving yards to displace Don Maynard for 20th place on the NFL's all-time receiving yardage list with 11,835 yards. Ward netted only 6 yards on his first two catches.
The Steelers were ineffective in the running game despite Indianapolis' lowly status as the league's 30th-ranked rush defense. Rashard Mendenhall gained just 37 yards on 18 carries.
Including playoffs, Steelers running backs had authored only two 100-plus yard rushing performances in the team's past 18 games before Sunday night.
• The game Sunday night was the first of three consecutive road games which the Steelers will play in domed stadiums. They go to Houston next week and on Oct. 23 play in Arizona, with two home games between the Texans and Cardinals. The last time they played in three domes was 2005 when they were at Houston, at Indianapolis and at Minnesota. They made it four that season when they won the Super Bowl at Detroit.
• The only time the Steelers played the Texans in Houston, it was the second game of the 2005 season and sweltering hot. The Texans have a retractable roof and opened it so the Steelers presumably would get overheated. The Steelers won, 27-7.
• Dan Rooney flew home from Ireland over the weekend and attended the game Sunday. He will return to Dublin Friday.
First Published September 26, 2011 12:18 am