What started out as a blowout, ended up as a nail biter, as the Steelers almost suffered another 4th quarter collapse. Steelers kicker Jeff Reed nailed a 46 yard field goal with 3:48 left in the game to lead the Steelers to a 38-28 win at Heinz Field.
If the Steelers would of lost, it surely would not been because of the offense. Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who started in place of injured starter Willie Parker, rushed for 165 yards on 29 carries. He also had 2 rushing touchdowns of 1 and 2 yards. Mendenhall ran hard all night behind stellar blocking from the offensive line. The line also protected quarterback Ben Roethlisberger well most of the night. Roethlisberger threw for 333 yards and 2 touchdowns on the night and seemed in great control of the offense. Roethlisberger only missed on 7 of the 33 passes he had on the night. A few misses were drops by veteran receiver Hines Ward, who caught 8 passes for 113 yards. Tight end Heath Miller also chipped in 8 catches for 70 yards on the night as Roethlisberger spread the ball around to 6 different players.
Two players who chipped in in small doses were running back Mewelde Moore and newly re-signed fullback Carey Davis. Moore caught 3 huge passes with one resulting in a touchdown and he also threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to Miller on a trick halfback option pass in the 4th quarter. Davis had a few key blocks on offense, but the biggest contribution was jumping on a loose fumble of Miller on the Chargers 2 yard line to retain possession. The next play resulted in a 2 yard scamper by Mendenhall.
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On the offensive line, guard Chris Kemoeatu had several punishing blocks that freed Mendenhall on several key runs. Kemoeatu suffered a leg injury late in the game, but returned a play later. He will have the leg reevaluated on Monday, but it does not appear to be serious at this time.
On the defensive side of the ball, the defense once again suffered another 4th quarter collapse by allowing 14 points and 107 of the Chargers 270 total yards in the final frame. They played great for 3 full quarters and held the Chargers to 16 yards rushing on the night and recorded 3 sacks on the night. The final sack by linebacker James Harrison with 34 seconds left in the game, caused Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to fumble and was recovered by fellow linebacker James Farrior. The defense still needs to find a way to toughen up in the 4th quarter.
Special teams also deserves a ton of the blame tonight as well. Kick returner Stefan Logan was stripped of the ball by Jacob Hester and Hester returned it for a touchdown. On the play, it seemed that Logan had his forward progress stopped, but the whistle never blew. Logan had no business trying to fight for more yards and should of went down. Later in the game Chargers kicker Kaeding kicked onside and Steelers safety Ryan Mundy muffed the catch. The ball was recovered by Chargers and 4 plays later the Chargers were in the endzone again, closing the score to 35-28.
In the end it was the Steelers offense that needed to ice the game as Roethlisbeger led a 10 play that ended in the final 3 points by Reed. The Steelers move to 2-2 on the season and are one game back of the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC north. The Steelers head to Detroit next Sunday to take on the 1-3 Lions at Ford Field.