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Suisham field goal lifts Steelers

October 8, 2012
By Buck Frank (bfrank@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - The Steelers faced the real prospect of having their record drop to 1-3.

The offense just watched the Philadelphia Eagles take a one-point lead with a little more than 6 minutes remaining in the game, and the Steelers took over possession at their own 20-yard line.

The direction this 2012 season was headed became magnified.

Article Photos

Mirror photos by J.D. Cavrich
The Steelers’ Antonio Brown shakes off Eagles defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha and takes off after making a catch for Pittsburgh.

"We wanted to go down and score,'' Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said. "You could see it in the eyes of the players. They all had that look. We wanted that put on our back to go out and win that.''

After twice failing in similar situations this season - in Denver and Oakland - the Steelers offense came together and produced a game-winning drive when Shaun Suisham's 34-yard field goal evened their record at 2-2 with a 16-14 victory over the Eagles on Sunday at Heinz Field.

"I pride myself, and we pride ourselves on offense, if we get the ball, whether we are up, down or it's tied - whatever it is - we want to go down and win the game,'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "I want the ball in my hands.''

The drive started inauspiciously with left guard Willie Colon getting called for holding for the fourth time in the game. But Roethlisberger made up the yardage with a 20-yard completion to Antonio Brown on third-and-12.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who returned to action for the first time since he tore a knee ligament in the 2011 regular-season finale in Cleveland, gained 15 yards on a short pass, and Isaac Redman added a few short runs.

Facing a third-and-4 at the Philadelphia 38 at the two-minute warning, Roethlisberger threw a 7-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders to get into Suisham's field-goal range.

"I had an option route, and I could either break in or out,'' Sanders said. "I broke out, and Ben threw a great ball, and we kept the chains moving.''

Mendenhall and Redman got the ball down to the 16, and Suisham delivered his fifth NFL game-winning field goal.

"We all knew we had a job to do,'' Sanders said. "It was a big situation, and it was a matter of who would seize the moment. Antonio had a big-time third-down catch, Rashard and Isaac ran the ball; the O-line pounded the beef. I had a big third-down catch, and we got a game-winning field goal from Suisham.''

The offense needed to pull out the win because the Steelers defense squandered a 10-0 halftime advantage.

The Eagles (3-2) went 80 yards on eight plays in the third quarter and scored on a Michael Vick 15-yard pass to running back LeSean McCoy. They also went 79 yards on 17 plays in the fourth quarter and got a Vick 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brent Celek to help offset a Suisham 34-yard field goal at the beginning of the quarter.

The Eagles' fourth-quarter drive was propelled by two fourth-and-1 runs by McCoy that each netted 2 yards against a Steelers defense that lost two stars - safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker LaMarr Woodley - to injuries earlier in the game but was also buoyed by the return of linebacker James Harrison.

The Steelers held the Eagles to 246 yards of total offense.

"We'll take a win however we can get it,'' Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. "We, as a defense, feel like we can play better, but we gave up 14 points, and that's usually good enough to get a win in the NFL.''

The Steelers gained their 10-0 first-half lead thanks to two long drives in the second quarter, one taking 12 plays and 75 yards with Mendenhall catching a lateral from Roethlisberger and racing into the end zone from 13 yards out.

Mendenhall finished the game with 81 yards on 14 carries and helped the Steelers rush for 136 yards as a team after struggling in that department the first three games of the season.

"Rashard gives you that boost,'' Pouncey said. "He's the type of running back who's fast and powerful. He can do lot - block and carry the load with a lot of reps. We needed that.''

The other second-quarter drive covered 77 yards on 12 plays and finished with a Suisham 20-yard field goal when receiver Jerricho Cotchery stumbled at the 2-yard line after catching what looked like a sure touchdown.

The Eagles, however, made the bigger mistakes in the first half. Vick fumbled the ball twice, including one at the Steelers' 1-yard line when the Eagles were threatening to score the first points of the game. Pittsburgh's Larry Foote recovered the ball in the end zone.

"I wish I could take back the fumble on the goal line, but I can't,'' Vick said. "Ultimately, we put ourselves in a position to win this game, but we didn't win. That's how it goes in the NFL.''

The Steelers gladly took the win, considering they have to travel to Tennessee for an 8:20 p.m. game Thursday against the Titans. That assignment would have been further complicated had they not pulled out the win against the Eagles.

"That's what this game is all about,'' Sanders said. "It's those moments. Everyone is waiting for those moments. This was a big game, we were 1-2 and thought this was our time to go out and win this. Everyone wanted to make that big play, and we all ended up contributing.''

 
 
 

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