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Old 12-01-2008, 05:28 AM   #1
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Default Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Game 12 vs. Patriots

Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Game 12 vs. Patriots
Monday, December 01, 2008
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Game ball goes to: James Harrison
In a game in which the Steelers had five takeaways, Harrison was responsible for two when he changed his pass-rush approach in the second half and decided to use his speed to create pressure. On consecutive series in the third quarter, Harrison ran around LT Matt Light and stripped the ball from QB Matt Cassel, resulting in recoveries by LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior, respectively. The sacks and turnovers led to two Jeff Reed field goals and built the lead to 26-10. And to think, Harrison was carted off the field at halftime because of a bad back.

The countdown
A quick look at the top performances from the win yesterday:

1. KEYARON FOX'S SPECIAL PLAY: There has been no greater turnaround this season than the performance of the special teams. And there might have been no bigger turnaround against the Patriots than when LB Keyaron Fox, maybe the best of the unit's coverage players, recovered a mishandled kickoff by Matthew Slater at the Patriots' 8, shortly after the Steelers had taken a 13-10 lead. Three plays later, Ben Roethlisberger converted the turnover into an 11-yard TD pass to Hines Ward to make it 20-10. "I knew it would pop out," Fox said. "And we got momentum out of it."

2. FIVE SERIES, FIVE TURNOVERS, 20 POINTS: That's how quickly it turned when the Steelers had five takeaways on five consecutive series in the second half. The rundown: A recovered fumble on a kickoff, two forced fumbles by James Harrison and interceptions by Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons.

3. BEN ROETHLISBERGER'S 11-YARD TOUCHDOWN TO HINES WARD: The touchdown in the third quarter was significant because it gave the Steelers a 20-10 lead. But it also proved to be a quick dagger for the Patriots because he made them pay for a bobbled kickoff that Keyaron Fox recovered at the 8.

4. BIG SNACK SACK: It is a rarity when NT Casey Hampton records a sack, but he had his first of the season and only second in 78 games when he sacked QB Matt Cassel on second-and-1 at the Steelers' 31, knocking the Patriots from field-goal range. Hampton was angry after being penalized for holding two plays earlier.

5. BIG BEN CHANGES THE PLAY: On third-and-2 at the Patriots' 45, Ben Roethlisberger called an audible at the line of scrimmage that allowed Mewelde Moore to gain 10 yards around the left side. The play kept alive a drive that resulted in a 19-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes that tied the score, 10-10.

Inside the numbers
That was the number of yards rushing by the Patriots, the most this season by a Steelers opponent. But a lot of those yards came against the nickel defense, including 68 yards on three carries when NT Casey Hampton was replaced by an extra defensive back.

What was he thinking?
Several of the players, including Lawrence Timmons, wanted to know why coach Mike Tomlin didn't challenge the play on which Timmons returned an interception 89 yards to the Patriots' 1. Timmons was running out of gas, but he appeared to score after being tackled by TE Ben Watson. Tomlin didn't challenge, and Gary Russell scored on a 1-yard run with 2:44 left. "I'd be mad if I was Timmons," Farrior said. "They took his [TD] away." Said Timmons: "I thought I scored."

"It means a lot to the guys who have been here for a while. ... There's always that bit of a psychological hurdle. This meant something to those guys" -- James Farrior on beating the Patriots

Up next vs. the Cowboys
4:15 P.M. SUNDAY: The Cowboys are coming off a 34-9 victory against Seattle Thanksgiving Day and have won their past three games. They have not played in Pittsburgh since 1997 and have won four of the past five meetings.

X's and O's
It might not be fair to say the Steelers picked on Patriots CB Deltha O'Neal, a former Bengals player. But, whenever he was in single coverage, Ben Roethlisberger wasted little time going after him. Santonio Holmes beat him on an out pattern for a 19-yard TD and Hines Ward caught an 11-yard TD in front of him in the third. Roethlisberger would have had another TD over O'Neal but Nate Washington dropped the ball. "We ran that out against Deltha a couple times in Cincinnati," Ward said.

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