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Old 10-08-2012, 12:02 AM   #39
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Default Coach Kugler calls out O-line

Steelers Notebook: Coach Kugler, Mendenhall boost offensive line

By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Just about everyone with an opinion on the Steelers voiced their displeasure with the performance of the offensive line the first month of the season. The Steelers ranked last in the NFL in rushing offense entering Sunday's game against the Eagles with a 2.6 yards per carry average.

The players are used to hearing scathing criticism from fans, but during the off week they heard it from someone with an opinion that really matters.

Offensive line coach Sean Kugler called out his players behind closed doors, and they responded with their best effort of the season in the 16-14 victory at Heinz Field.

"Our coach asked for it," right guard Ramon Foster said. "When coach Kugler has his credibility on the line, we have to make it happen for him. It was good to finally click."

The Steelers rushed for 136 yards and 4.4 yards per carry. They totaled 195 yards on the ground in the first three games.

The running game was particularly effective in the second half. They had 96 rushing yards in the final two quarters. Of those yards, 63 came on the final two drives, including 26 on the final drive that led to the winning field goal by Shaun Suisham.

"We just knew we had a good rhythm," left guard Willie Colon said. "We felt we were starting to wear them out up front. They were trying to be cheap shot artists, doing things after the whistle. It was about us keeping our cool, digging it out and fighting."

Foster and Colon said the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall played a big role in the success of the run game. Mendenhall had 84 yards on 14 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown, the only touchdown of the game for the Steelers.

"I think [Mendenhall] did a great job of finding the hole and hitting it," Colon said. "He didn't second-guess anything. He read it well. When he got holes he hit them. Just happy he's back with us."

Said Foster: "It was a breath of fresh air to have him out there."

The line also protected quarterback Ben Roethlisberger well. Roethlisberger was not sacked and threw for 207 yards.

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