Steelers remember the comeback formula, outlast Eagles
Shaun Suisham kicks the winning field goal against the Eagles in the fourth quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
Rashard Mendenhall pushes away from the Eagles' Mychal Kendricks in the third quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
Troy Polamalu takes down Eagles' LeSean McCoy in the first quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
The Eagles' defensive end Trent Cole pressures Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Shaun Suisham is congratulated by teammates Greg Warren and Drew Butler after kicking the winning field goal against the Eagles in the fourth quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gets in the face of Philadelphia's Brandon Graham after taking a hard hit in the second quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton bears down on Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.
The Steelers' Antonio Brown pulls in a pass against the Eagles in the second quarter Sunday at Heinz Field.
The Eagles' Mardy Gilyard greets the Steelers' Antonio Brown prior to the game.
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Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has pulled games out of the fire so often, people forget he fails on occasion.
Count him among those who did not forget. He thought about it as he guided his offense 64 yards to allow Shaun Suisham's 34-yard field goal with no time left Sunday to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, 16-14, at Heinz Field.
"Don't go 0 for 3 on fourth-quarter drives," Roethlisberger said about his inability to win in two similar circumstances this season. "It's frustrating because I like to have the ball in my hands. As an offense we want to control it. We got it [Sunday]. We went backwards first but we ended up in the right spot."
The winning drive actually covered 74 yards because Willie Colon's fourth holding penalty (one was declined) put them back to the 10. But Roethlisberger completed a third-and-12 pass of 20 yards to Antonio Brown over the middle and hit another third-down pass to Emmanuel Sanders to the Philadelphia 31. Five consecutive runs put Suisham in business in the rain from the 16, his third field goal of the game.
"It's fun when you come out and kick the field goal and the game's over," said Suisham, perfect on eight kicks this season.
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The Steelers season might have been over not long after it started had Roethlisberger not pulled off his 28th winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. Baltimore won to go 4-1 and a 1-3 start would have put the Steelers in a deep hole in the AFC North Division.
For the second game in a row, they lost a 10-point second-half lead. Philadelphia, which bungled one precious scoring chance when quarterback Michael Vick lost a fumble into the end zone from the Steelers 3, scored on Vick's 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brent Celek with 6:33 left to take a 14-13 lead.
"We just have to find a way to force teams to three points," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "We haven't really been able to do that this year."
Or as linebacker Larry Foote put it, "We're 2-2 four games in; it's about time we get this thing rolling."
They have a chance to do that by rolling into Nashville Thursday night for a game against the Tennessee Titans. They likely will have to do so without linebacker LaMarr Woodley or safety Troy Polamalu. Both left at the end of the first quarter. Woodley has a hamstring injury and Polamalu aggravated the calf injury that sidelined him the past two games.
A few formerly injured players who managed to remain on the field did well. Rashard Mendenhall, making his first appearance in a game since his anterior cruciate ligament was torn Jan. 1, ran 14 times for 81 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown on a backward pass that staked the Steelers to a 7-0 lead. He also caught two passes for 20 yards.
The Steelers ran for 136 yards to surpass 100 for the first time this season after entering the game ranked 31st in the NFL.
"He told me during the week he wasn't sure how long he would be able to go and how his knee would feel," said running back Isaac Redman, who tacked on 41 yards. "For him to perform like he did and come out and have a real good game definitely is a confidence booster for him to move forward."
The Steelers tightened their run defense, too. They held LeSean "Shady" McCoy to 53 yards and the Eagles to 78 on the ground.
Vick was his team's most and least valuable player. He threw for two touchdowns, but lost two fumbles in the first half, including the one from the 3 on a first-down run when Ryan Clark hit him. Larry Foote recovered both.
"That turnover down there in the red zone was a big turning point in the game," Keisel said. "If they even get three points there, we still lose this thing."
The Eagles (3-2) converted two fourth-down plays on a fourth-quarter drive that put them ahead, a drive that covered 79 yards on 17 plays. It had been more than a year since Roethlisberger guided his team to a fourth-quarter victory -- Sept. 25, 2011, when Suisham's 38-yard field goal with four seconds left beat Indianapolis by three.
Said Keisel: "People were talking about, 'Oh, I don't know if Ben can make that game-winning drive.' You can still see, he's still one of the best."
Earlier, the Steelers settled for two field goals after misfiring in their attempts to score touchdowns. Suisham kicked his second of the game, from 34 yards, after Roethlisberger overthrew Heath Miller, who was wide open at the 5. That came early in the fourth quarter and put them on top 13-7.
The Steelers held a 10-7 lead after Philadelphia drove 80 yards on eight plays to creep within 10-7 on McCoy's 15-yard touchdown catch off a short pass from Vick.
"I said during the week that he makes guys look stupid and he made a few of us look like that [Sunday] including myself," Keisel said of the former Pitt back. "We've watched him for a long time now, he's going to be a great player in this league."
That drive included two 15-yard penalties against both Steelers safeties -- Clark for unnecessary roughness and Ryan Mundy for a helmet-to-helmet hit that replays showed was shoulder-to-shoulder.
Before Suisham's first field goal from 20 yards that put the Steelers ahead, 10-0, they blew two chances at scoring a touchdown. Brown dropped a pass in the end zone -- one of five drops by Steelers receivers -- and Jerricho Cotchery tripped without being touched at the 2 after a 7-yard gain.
"He was kind of waiting for the hit and he just got caught up," Roethlisberger said. "It's unfortunate because we could have had a touchdown there."
That makes two touchdowns Roethlisberger could have had, including the one to Mendenhall that was ruled a lateral. He was 21 of 37 for 207 yards, no interceptions again and for the first time since the 2010 season, no sacks. And for the first time in a long time, a winning drive in the fourth quarter.
"We needed that," center Maurkice Pouncey said. "That was big for us. We really, really needed that."
First Published October 8, 2012 12:00 am