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11-29-2010, 06:11 AM
Steelers Report Card: Game 11 vs. Bills
Monday, November 29, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Ben Roethlisberger passed for 246 yards and was not intercepted for the second game in a row, but his biggest play was an 18-yard scramble on third-and-17 that led to the field goal that gave the Steelers a 16-13 lead. Roethlisberger did a good job converting third downs in the first half (7 of 9), controlling the ball for 24 minutes. He also converted a third-and-8 in overtime that led to the winning FG.


Rashard Mendenhall finished with 151 yards on 36 carries, both season highs, and also had a 42-yard run wiped out by a holding penalty. But his fumble fighting for extra yards at the Steelers' 23 led to the field goal that tied the score at 13-all. Issac Redman had two big third-down conversions in overtime and third-down back Mewelde Moore had four catches for 33 yards.


Hines Ward had his third 100-yard receiving game, finishing with seven catches and 107 yards, both team highs. He had six of his catches for 83 yards in the first half, including a 21-yarder on the opening series. TE Heath Miller had three catches in the first half, all on third down. Emmanuel Sanders had a big drop on third-and-9 at the Bills' 30, forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal.


The Steelers had their highest rushing total of the season (206 yards) against the league's worst rush defense. But Roethlisberger was sacked five times for the second time in three games and the line was called for six holding penalties -- four against G Chris Kemoeatu. His penalties wiped out 86 yards in gains, none bigger than a 42-yard run by Mendenhall in the fourth quarter.


The Bills did a nice job running the ball against the league's No. 1 rush defense, especially in the second half when they gained 68 of their 74 yards. They averaged 4.4 yards per carry, despite not having a run longer than a 13-yarder by RB Fred Jackson. NT Casey Hampton rarely played in the first half because the Steelers used a lot of substitution packages against the Bills multiple-receiver formations.


The Bills ran 17 plays and averaged just 3 yards per play in the first half, but they ran 47 plays and averaged 5.9 yards after halftime. The biggest play was Jackson's 65-yard catch-and-run TD in which LaMarr Woodley missed a big tackle. James Harrison had a sack and a forced fumble on the first series of the second half, but he received another 15-yard penalty for leading with his helmet.


Nothing would have mattered if Bills WR Stevie Johnson didn't drop a pass in the end zone in overtime after getting behind CB Ike Taylor and S Ryan Clark. Troy Polamalu's three-play sequence in the fourth quarter, including a diving interception at the Steelers' 2, kept the Bills from winning in regulation. Nickel back William Gay replaced injured Bryant McFadden and had a team-high four passes defensed.


Kicker Shaun Suisham was the hero, making all four of his field-goal attempts, including the winning 41-yarder in overtime. But maybe his most important kick was a 48-yarder into the wind that gave the Steelers a 16-13 lead. Daniel Sepulveda's 55-yard punt from the end zone in OT was big, but Leodis McKelvin's 49-yard kick return in OT and a late-hit penalty on Keyaron Fox were almost costly.


This would have all been so different if Johnson didn't drop an easy TD in overtime. Not only did the Steelers blow a 13-0 lead against a 2-8 team that looked painfully similar to last season; they committed 10 penalties for 107 yards one week after they were penalized 14 times for 163 yards. To the players credit, they never panicked and made plays when they had to, none bigger than Suisham.

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