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Dwyer running into the conversation

Steelers notebook

October 29, 2012
By John Mehno (johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com) , The Altoona Mirror

PITTSBURGH - Jonathan Dwyer has back-to-back 100-yard games. Does that mean he also has a job in the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting lineup?

Predictably, coach Mike Tomlin sidestepped that question after the Steelers 27-12 victory over the Washington Redskins Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.

"He's answered the call and taken advantage of the opportunity," Tomlin said. "That's what we expect from all our young people. We don't discount what any of them are capable of.

"He did the job today, but obviously I read his name here when I talked about the list of injuries, so I'm not going to speak soon on that. We'll check on the health of all the people involved and the health of the guys that get the opportunities next week."

Dwyer was indeed on the brief postgame injury list. Tomlin said he had "a right quad that got tight."

Dwyer said he didn't anticipate any problem being ready for Sunday's game at the New York Giants.

After responding to his opportunity with a pair of 100-yard games, Dwyer understandably wants to keep going. His chance has come because Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman are currently sidelined with injuries. The No. 3 man on the depth chart has become the No. 1 running back, at least for the moment.

"I'm not going to talk about that," Dwyer said. "I'm just going to do what I can to help us win. In all reality, I'm just trying to solidify myself around here and in the league as well."

About the only thing Dwyer didn't do was get into the end zone. He came up short a couple of times, so Ben Roethlisberger threw scoring passes to three tight ends Heath Miller, Leonard Pope and Will Johnson.

"The touchdowns will come," Dwyer said. "It didn't happen today. God will give me another chance. I'm just glad that we got the win. Touchdowns are touchdowns, they don't mean wins. Championships are what it's all about. That's what we play for."

The Steelers headed into this season with a stated desire to run the ball more. That's happened in the last two weeks, because it's been an effective part of the offense. Dwyer has brought an energy, and the offensive line has been blocking better.

Coaches usually don't like to tamper with a winning formula. Even if Mendenhall is ready on Sunday, Dwyer should get some plays. That will be fine with his quarterback.

"He runs hard," Roethlisberger said. "We know when we put the ball in his hands, he's going to give you everything he's got. He brings a little bit of power and a little bit of quickness. He brings a little bit of speed, not a lot of speed. He just runs hard. He runs with a passion. He's fun to watch."

Moving on up

Miller made a couple more marks in the Steelers' record book on Sunday.

His catch of a 7-yard pass in the fourth quarter was his 37th touchdown reception, tying Elbie Nickel for the franchise record among tight ends.

Miller is now seventh all-time with 4,200 receiving yards. He passed Plaxico Burress (4,164).

Knocked out

Steelers safety Ryan Clark left the game early in the third quarter with a concussion. He will be evaluated as the week goes on under NFL protocol for head injuries.

He was replaced by Will Allen.

Aside from Clark and Dwyer, the only other injury Tomlin mentioned after the game was LaMarr Woodley's right hamstring strain.

Going crazy

Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, a nine-year NFL veteran, picked up two penalties and was ejected after a prolonged argument with the officials in the fourth quarter.

Hall was engaged with Emmanuel Sanders after the snap, and wound up pushing Sanders to the ground.

Then Hall took off his helmet and got into a dispute with head linesman Dana McKenzie, walking steadily toward the official and using his hand to gesture at him. That drew flags from McKenzie and another official.

He continued his harangue, even after teammates tried to pull him away from the officials, drawing yet another flag and the ejection.

"I'm very disappointed," Shanahan said. "We talk all the time about keeping your composure regardless of what happens or what the situation is. You never put your team in that type of situation."

Oops

Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III didn't have a good day, completing just 16 of 34 passes for 177 yards with one touchdown. His passer rating was 72.8.

But the game tapes will show unofficially that 10 of the 18 incompletions were the result of drops by his receivers. Sometimes hits from Steelers defenders prevented a catch. Other times the receivers simply couldn't hold a ball that hit their hands.

Asked if the steady rain was a factor, Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said, "It was tough. I couldn't catch the ball today."

He'd probably better not say that to coach Mike Shanahan.

"They had the same weather as we did, so I definitely don't attribute it to the weather," he said. "It's been a long time since I've had a game like this relative to the the many opportunities you didn't take advantage of when guys were open. I was disappointed.

"As long as it hits your hand, you better catch it or you won't be in the National Football League very long."

Finishing in style

It looked like Antonio Brown had returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. However, the play was nullified when Curtis Brown was flagged for an illegal block.

Brown was so free on the runback, that he turned around and ran the last 20 yards backwards.

That got him a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, which was declined in favor of Curtis Brown's penalty.

The stunt also got Brown an earful from receivers coach Scottie Montgomery.

"He said I've got to be smart, that I'm a better player than that," Brown said.

Brown said he had "no clue" that showing off by running backwards could draw a flag.

Tomlin claimed he didn't see it, that his focus was on the call against Curtis Brown. But he said it will be addressed.

"That's not what we're about," Tomlin said.

London calling

Despite a hamstring injury that was expected to keep him out of the game, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher played the entire game, extending his consecutive game streak to 232.

Fletcher appeared to have problems running, and the Steelers exploited the matchup a few times to their benefit.

Ouch

Roethlisberger had an accurate day passing, completing 24 of 33 for 222 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 121.

One of his misses hit umpire Darrell Jenkins squarely in the head late in the second quarter. Aside from being embarrassed, Jenkins had no other problem.

Stats and streaks

The Steelers have won 15 of the last 16 games in which the opponent started a rookie quarterback.

The Steelers are 400-253-2 in the regular season since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. They are the first team to win 400 games in that span. The Miami Dolphins have 389 victories.

In the last 17 home games against NFC teams, the Steelers are 16-1.

Pope's touchdown catch was his first in the NFL.

Kicker Shaun Suisman made field goals from 48 and 27 yards and is 16-for-17 this season.

 
 

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