View Full Version : On the Steelers: Miller's fumble turns tide

11-01-2010, 07:24 AM
On the Steelers: Miller's fumble turns tide
Monday, November 01, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NEW ORLEANS -- Instant replay took another touchdown away from the Steelers for the second consecutive Sunday, only this time they did not escape with a victory on the road.

On a Halloween night in which patrons jammed the Superdome dressed in costumes to set a world record, the offenses of the Steelers and New Orleans Saints nearly failed to show at all. New Orleans' offense, though, showed up late and showed just enough for a 20-10 victory.

Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter -- 16 yards to Marques Colston and 8 yards to Lance Moore -- to break open what had been a Big Sleepy game in which all three touchdowns came in the final period.

The Steelers scored their only touchdown on a 38-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall.

"It was a tough environment for us tonight," coach Mike Tomlin said, implying that his team did not handle the crowd noise very well.

The Steelers, losing for the first time this season on the road, slipped to 5-2 and into a first-place tie in the AFC North Division with idle Baltimore. The Saints improved to 5-3.

An expected scoreboard workout did not take place for two full quarters as the teams were tied at halftime, 3-3, and New Orleans took a 6-3 lead into the fourth quarter before the touchdown flurry matched a similar flurry of turnovers -- one in particular killing the Steelers' chances for a comeback.

Trailing by three with 6 1/2 minutes left, Ben Roethlisberger found Heath Miller deep over the middle, the only pass he threw to his starting tight end. Miller snapped it up and reached the Saints' 34 for a 25-yard pickup, but, when fighting for extra yards, he was smacked hard on the hands by linebacker Marvin Mitchell. The ball popped out, the Saints recovered, and the Steelers never did. New Orleans took over and scored again for a 10-point lead.

"I was fighting for extra yards," said Miller, who stayed in much of the night to block. "They knocked the ball out. It's disappointing to let your team down in that way. When you have the ball, you kind of carry the whole team on your back."

It was a night of lost opportunities for the Steelers, who botched their only two scoring chances in the first half, settling for a field goal on one and nothing on the other.

Steelers rookie Emmanuel Sanders, the AFC special teams player for last week, returned his first NFL punt for 38 yards near the end of the first quarter to set up the game's first score. Sanders brought the ball back to the New Orleans 44, and Roethlisberger and his offense took things from there.

Using the ground game effectively, the Steelers moved to the 12 where, on third down, Antwaan Randle El caught a Roethlisberger pass and bounced into the end zone. The officials ruled a touchdown, but New Orleans coach Sean Payton challenged the call. It was overturned after a video review, and the ball was placed at the one-foot line.

Nearly the same thing happened to them the previous week in Miami when replay overturned a Roethlisberger touchdown and placed the ball at the 1 in a rare ruling -- the quarterback fumbled, but no one could determine who recovered it. They gave it to the Steelers at the 1 then, and Jeff Reed kicked the winning field goal.

They managed another field goal Sunday night, but it was not the winner this time. They went nowhere on three consecutive runs from so close as Isaac Redman lost a yard and Mendenhall gained one on two tries.

Reed came on to score the game's first points, a 19-yard field goal for a 3-0 Steelers lead.

"It was too little too late, especially down on the goal line early on," said offensive tackle Max Starks. "It was on the half-yard line, if that."

Even though Mendenhall looked as though he got the ball over the goal line on his first carry, Tomlin did not think of asking for a replay challenge.

"When you're on the road, you don't get [good] looks on replay," he explained.

Their only other threat of the half came in the final two minutes after Ike Taylor made a leaping interception of a deep Brees pass to give the Steelers a first down at New Orleans' 36 with 1:51 to go.

They reached the 23, but, on first down, Hines Ward was penalized for offensive pass interference on an incompletion near the goal line and, on fourth down at the 33, Reed missed a 51-yard field-goal try wide to the right.

That gave the Saints the ball at their 41 with 1:11 left in the half, and they moved close enough for Garrett Hartley to kick a 31-yard field goal with eight seconds left to send the teams into halftime tied, 3-3.

The Saints got a boost when Courtney Roby returned the kickoff to start the second half 39 yards to the Saints' 44.

New Orleans moved to the Steelers' 4 and picked up a break when Troy Polamalu was penalized for pass interference in the end zone, giving the Saints a first down at the 1. They went backward, and, like the Steelers in a similar situation in the second quarter, had to settle for a field goal from 23 yards to take their first lead, 6-3. Backup defensive lineman Chris Hoke spilled Ladell Betts for a 3-yard loss on second down to key that goal-line stand.

What looked to be a promising drive coming back for the Steelers died a quick death. First, right tackle Flozell Adams limped off the field with another injury. The Steelers had a first down at the Saints' 46, but Adams' replacement, Jonathan Scott, was caught for holding, and it pushed them back another 10. They came up with a fourth-and-4 at the 40, but Roethlisberger's pass on the right for Sanders was broken up.

Their decision to go on fourth down gave the Saints good field position to start their next drive, and they took advantage of it to score the first touchdown.

"I thought our team needed that at that point," Tomlin said of his decision to go for it. "I thought it would be a shot in the arm for our group."

It did not work out that way.

For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette On the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette can be reached at

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10305/1099797-66.stm#ixzz141Mtx1bn

Fire Arians
11-01-2010, 12:14 PM
stuff happens, but yeah that fumble pretty much lost the game. at that point we had momentum on our side and only down by 3 in position to tie or win the game. that one killed it

11-01-2010, 06:22 PM
Can't blame Miller for his effort.....

And while the fumble eventually led to a Saints touchdown, players know it was more than one play that cost the game.

“We are never going to fault Heath for extra effort,” said Ward. “We left a lot of plays out there. We win as a team, we lose as a team.”

He'll redeem himself down the line and make the plays.........

Lady Steel
11-02-2010, 03:07 PM
While Heath's fumble was disappointing (and surprising for me), all the big plays he has made for the Steelers' offense thus far has more than made up for it. I'm biased though because he's my favorite player and I lurve him.

11-02-2010, 07:43 PM
Umm how about the 45 minutes of pretty much flat 3 and outs by the offense or stalled drives?

Millers fumble was part of the reason but not the whole reason. The offense was pretty flat all game the defense started getting picked apart because by the mid 3rd quarter they were on the field a hell of a lot more then the 3nout offense.