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|10-06-2009, 12:41 AM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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On the Steelers: Victory against Chargers went as planned
On the Steelers: Victory against Chargers went as planned
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
This is how Bruce Arians draws it up Tuesday when he diagrams the Steelers' game plan on offense. They were not perfect against the San Diego Chargers on offense Sunday night, just close to it.
You start with 333 yards passing and two touchdowns by Ben Roethlisberger, toss in 165 yards rushing by Rashard Mendenhall, score from short yardage, score touchdowns on four of your first five series, throw no interceptions, involve virtually all of your skill people and get a monster performance from your line and you make your Tuesday dreams come true on Sunday.
Even the one trick play worked, a halfback pass by Mewelde Moore to tight end Heath Miller, good for a 6-yard touchdown.
And, after their defense and special teams let them down in the second half, that offense moved 51 yards on 10 plays to lock things up with Jeff Reed's 46-yard field goal with 43 seconds left.
"I don't see how more balanced you can get than that," Hines Ward said. "To have 300 yards by your quarterback, a 100-yard rusher, a 100-yard receiver, that's what you ask for offensively.
"We clicked on all cylinders. We showcased what type of offense we have."
The evolution of the Steelers' offense was in full bloom Sunday night. They piled up such a big lead that even another meltdown by their defense and two major gaffes by their special teams could not deter them.
Ward caught eight passes for 113 yards, Miller scored two touchdowns among his eight receptions, Mendenhall scored twice in short yardage without Isaac "Red Zone" Redman ever coming off the bench, Moore added a touchdown reception to go with the one he tossed.
"That's what we talk about, balance," Ward said. "I think all of the wide receivers got opportunities to make plays. The offensive line gave Mendenhall some huge holes and even when he didn't have holes he stuck his head in there and got extra yards, kept falling forward. In the red zone we finished, scored two touchdowns."
The Steelers' defense that has been so dominant through the years could do nothing but admire the effort.
"It was fun to watch," said defensive end Brett Keisel.
The Steelers' offense ran 36 times, passed 34 (plus three sacks). They held the ball 40 minutes and 20 seconds to just 19:40 for the Chargers, more than 2-1. They piled up 497 yards in total offense, converted 8 of 12 third downs plus one very critical fourth-down play, and had 32 first downs to 17 for the Chargers.
They might like to play the Chargers more often, especially the San Diego team that was without 350-pound nose tackle Jamal Williams and, for the most part, without dominant outside linebacker Shawne Merriman. Nevertheless, if the Steelers' offense keeps this up, they can become a better overall team than their Super Bowl predecessor.
"You look at our skill positions," Ward said. "Myself and 'Tone and Mike [Wallace] and Heath along with the way Mendenhall was running and our offensive line opening up some holes, it's going to be giving some defensive coordinators some fits."
That finishing kick
Fans were not bashful when they saw kicker Jeff Reed out and about the past two weeks, since he missed two field goals in a three-point loss at Chicago.
"When you go into public it's tough," Reed said after kicking his 46-yarder Sunday night. "But I understand they want us to win just as bad as I want to win. Sometimes, they take it a little too serious."
Reed noted that he received encouragement from some fans but "there's a handful who throw out lines: 'Better not miss another!' Stuff like that. But it's OK. The city is die-hard football, they live and die by our team, the Penguins, the Pirates, the sports teams.
"At times you say, 'Man are you serious?' But at the same time, it's the job I entail."
Reed knows that job satisfaction for him and those fans is only as good as his next kick -- his winner in overtime against Tennessee seemed long forgotten by his two misses in Chicago the following weekend. He missed a 52-yarder in Cincinnati's three-point loss and then he trotted onto Heinz Field for his crucial try Sunday night as the Steelers' four-touchdown lead had quickly turned into a tenuous seven-point advantage.
"I think there was probably a little uneasiness in the crowd when I went out there and it doesn't bother me that it was," Reed said. "I don't care where I'm kicking, I know I'm capable of making every kick when I get on the field and tonight was an example of that."
That finishing drive
After what happened in their previous two games, Mike Tomlin added even more emphasis last week to a prime edict: Finish.
Maybe the Steelers' defense and special teams did not quite get the message but their offense did. That will not go in the books as another winning drive by Ben Roethlisberger, but it became one when the Steelers moved 51 yards on 10 plays to allow Reed to kick the field goal to seal it.
"That was one of the main things, that we finish," Roethlisberger said shortly after it ended. "We haven't been able to finish the last couple of weeks; we did today. We put up 38, and I think it could have been more."
Short and sweet
Isaac "Red Zone" Redman remained on the bench on offense, yet the Steelers still were able to score in close. Rashard Mendenhall scored from 1 and from 2, his 2-yarder up the middle behind a double-team by center Justin Hartwig and guard Trai Essex on the nose tackle.
Mendenhall also ran 6 yards off right guard on third-and-1 on the second series and Ben Roethlisberger saved face for his coach when he got 3 yards on a fourth-and-1 sneak from his 30 with a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.
On the field-goal drive that put the game away for good, Roethlisberger ran 2 yards on third-and-1 from the San Diego 28.
Hartwig said their success on short yardage sent a message to coordinator Bruce Arians that they can get it done.
"When it's third-and-short and we need a yard or inch and we have to get it, we have to instill the confidence in our offensive coordinator that we can get those yards on those short-yardage run plays. I think we did that effectively."
ON THE STEELERS
• Finishing kick: Jeff Reed gets back on track with 46-yarder.
• Finishing drive: The offense understood Mike Tomlin's prime edict.
• Short and sweet: The Steelers were able to score in close.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09279...#ixzz0T7yNOUGp
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