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Ugly or not, Big Ben knows how to win

October 8, 2012
The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - Sunday's game was always close and never pretty.

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 16-14 on a drizzly afternoon at Heinz Field, evening their record at 2-2 and sealing the result with Shaun Suisham nailing a 34-yard goal as time expired.

Suisham has been perfect this year; the rest of the Steelers have fallen well short of that standard.

Ben Roethlisberger wound up with a passer rating of 72.7, which isn't very good. But a lot of that bore the fingerprints of his receivers, those same fingers that couldn't hold four or five catchable passes, including one to Antonio Brown that could have been/should have been a touchdown.

On the plus side, Roethlisberger didn't turn the ball over, and he led the last drive that took the Steelers in position for Suisham to make his kick.

Roethlisberger is a master of the fourth-quarter comeback, but it had been a while since he'd presided over one. He couldn't do it in last year's playoff game at Denver, and fell short when he had a couple of chances previously this season.

This time, though, he was able to take care of things, converting a couple of third downs with passes on the last drive. It was close to textbook as the Steelers moved efficiently down the field, gaining yardage while losing time on the clock.

Poor Willie Colon moved to guard this season, and was probably wishing he had moved to Guam. He was flagged for four penalties, a daylight nightmare that also earned him a sideline dressing down from coach Mike Tomlin.

If there's anything good about this for Colon, it's a short week with a Thursday game at Tennessee looming. That means there won't be a lot of time to study tape on Sunday's game.

Colon was the only one who may have cringed from the video. There were a couple of high snaps that led to lost yardage, and the Steelers had nine penalties, including a couple for unnecessary roughness against Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy.

Aside from the final score, most of the numbers weren't impressive. But the Steelers, boosted by the return from injury of Rashard Mendenhall, were able to strike a balance between the run and pass for the first time this season.

And they found a way to win after allowing the Eagles to move 79 yards on a 17-play drive that ate a big chunk of the fourth quarter and put Philadelphia ahead for the first time in the game.

The Steelers started their winning drive from their own 20 with 6:33 on the clock. The biggest play was a 20-yard gain on a Roethlisberger pass to Brown, one of his game-leading seven receptions.

There were a couple of injuries that are a concern: Troy Polamalu was back on the bench in the second quarter after re-injuring the right calf muscle that caused him to sit out two games. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley exited with a hamstring problem.

Lawrence Timmons stepped up and was more of a presence, and the Steelers reverted to the non-Polamalu plan they've been working.

Through it all - injuries, mistakes, inattention to detail - they found a way to win against a team that had come in with a 3-1 record.

"They got us," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

That was the bottom line on a day when that was all that mattered.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

 
 

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