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mesaSteeler
10-07-2009, 07:59 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/steelers/notes.htm

Pittsburgh's offense, which has evolved away from the run game and more toward the pass, may have the kind of balance that could make it a force through the season. The Steelers ran and passed nearly at will against San Diego and also showed that, given a back who can run the ball well enough, coordinator Bruce Arians has nothing against sticking with the ground game.

Rashard Mendenhall ran 29 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers ran 36 times and passed 34, not counting three sacks of Ben Roethlisberger. Arians had Roethlisberger come out throwing on the first series and turned to the run to close it.

On the second series, he had the Steelers running at the start and then passed to close that one out for a 14-0 lead. "The defense struggles one day, offensively we have to put it on our shoulders to win games," Hines Ward said. "The defense has saved the offense many a year, many games."

If the Steelers can continue to play like that on offense, they might have a better team than they did on way to their Super Bowl XLIII victory. "We always knew that we had it in us, and we were able to make the plays," Ben Roethlisberger said. Roethlisberger, who has played every snap, has completed 73.2 percent of his passes, far above his career norm and for any full season in his previous five.

NOTES, QUOTES

—The Steelers were hoping to re-sign rookie DE Ra'Shon "Sonny" Harris to their practice squad after Carolina cut him last week. However, Harris, a sixth-round draft pick by Pittsburgh, signed with Carolina's practice squad. —Even though they are just getting their ground game on track, the Steelers are dominating time of possession through the first quarter of the season.

They have had the ball for 34 minutes, 45 seconds on average to 25:15 for their opponents. —RB Mewelde Moore caught a TD pass of 19 yards and threw one of 6 on a halfback pass Sunday night. It was his second TD pass of his career. He threw one of 15 yards while playing for the Vikings in 2006.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES —RB Rashard Mendenhall could earn back-to-back starts for the first time in his career after his 29-carry, 165-yard game Sunday night. —LB James Harrison, shut out on sacks through the first two games, has three in the past two. He set a Steelers record with 16 last season. —WR Hines Ward is off to a fast start with 26 receptions for 355 yards, both tops on the team, but he has yet to score a touchdown. —SS Troy Polamalu's goal is to return was this week vs. Detroit.

He's been out since the first half of the opener with a sprained MCL. —PR Stefan Logan lost a fumble that was returned 41 yards for a touchdown, and his average on 10 punt returns is 7.5 yards.

REPORT CARD VS. CHARGERS PASSING OFFENSE: A — Ben Roethlisberger was practically perfect. He completed 26 of 33 passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 128.9 passer rating — with three drops by his receivers. RB Mewelde Moore added a 6-yard TD pass. Roethlisberger was sacked three times.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A — Rashard Mendenhall had his breakout game after a rough start to his second season. He ran hard, hit holes decisively and picked up 165 yards on 29 carries with two short touchdown runs. Roethlisberger got a first down on a sneak on fourth down at his 30. The offensive line, for the first time, was blowing defenders off the ball.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus — After shutting down and shutting out the Chargers for nearly three quarters, the pass defense had a meltdown and allowed 254 yards by Philip Rivers, who completed 21 of 36 with three TDs. The Steelers sacked him three times, but Rivers threw no interceptions.

RUSH DEFENSE: A — Untested because San Diego fell behind early and never tried to run. LaDainian Tomlinson ran seven times for 15 yards, and Rivers added 1 yard on one try. SPECIAL TEAMS: D-plus — A fumbled punt by Stefan Logan helped get the Chargers back in the game in the fourth quarter, as they returned it 41 yards for a TD that made the score 28-14. With the Steelers ahead by two touchdowns, the Chargers tried an onside kick. Ryun Mundy lost the ball, San Diego recovered and went on to score a TD with 4:31 left. However, Jeff Reed kicked a 46-yard field goal with 43 seconds to go to seal the win.

COACHING: B — The Steelers offense was balanced and nearly perfect all night, with Bruce Arians mixing the calls. Despite the near meltdown in the fourth quarter, the defense bottled up Rivers and his offense for almost three full quarters. Mike Tomlin, though, nearly blew it when he ordered a QB sneak on fourth down from his 30 with a 14-point lead. Roethlisberger saved him by making it.