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mesaSteeler
12-21-2009, 06:06 AM
F. Dale Lolley: Anything is possible
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/localsports/12-21-Steelers-Packers-column
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PITTSBURGH - In the annals of Steelers history there have been many exciting regular-season games. None, however, touch what occurred Sunday at Heinz Field.

Needing a touchdown and extra point to win and keep their season alive, the Steelers took control of the ball at their own 14-yard line with 2:06 and one time out remaining.

Eleven plays later, Ben Roethlisberger fired a pass to the corner of the end zone to rookie receiver Mike Wallace, who was well-covered by Green Bay cornerback Josh Brown.

It didn't matter.

Wallace caught the football while falling to the ground, somehow keeping both feet in bounds as time expired. And when Jeff Reed booted the extra point, the Steelers had themselves an improbable 37-36 victory over the Packers.

It was the kind of game, the kind of ending, that people will be talking about for years.

"We were probably the only ones in the building who thought we would score on that last play," said Wallace. "But you never give up. You just keep playing."

Because of Wallace's catch, the Steelers will continue to have something to play for.

The victory not only ended Pittsburgh's five-game losing streak, it also gave the Steelers new life in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers still need plenty of help, but they received some earlier in the day when both Miami and the New York Jets lost.

Though the playoffs remain a long shot, the victory gave this team the shot in the arm it needed.

There were players in the Steelers' locker room who wondered if the team was snake-bit this season. They wondered if this team could win another game.

Five-game losing streaks will do that.

"This does a lot for me," linebacker James Farrior said. "Coming into work with five losses in a row was tough. You've got to be a strong individual to deal with that. I think this will build our confidence and let us know that we can still play, still win."

It was something that was coming into doubt, particularly when the Steelers lost to NFL bottom-feeders Oakland and Cleveland in their last two games.

How can a team that has beaten San Diego, Minnesota, Denver and Green Bay - four teams that would be in the playoffs if they began today - lose to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland?

It seems the Steelers play to the level of their opponent.

When you do that against a good team, sometimes you're able to pull out a win. When you play down to the level of a bad team, you give that opponent more confidence as the game wears on because they probably didn't expect to be able to compete.

The Steelers are in a tough spot, one-game behind both Baltimore and Denver in the AFC wild-card race. But after this victory, anything seems possible. It showed that this team hasn't quit.

"The veterans just kept telling me all day long to dig deep, dig deep, dig deep," said Wallace. "We kept digging deep all day long and it showed on that final drive."

It's a shame this team wasn't able to figure that out a few weeks earlier.

O-R Steelers beat writer F. Dale Lolley can be reached at dlolley@observer-reporter.com