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|10-11-2007, 09:27 AM||#1|
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Injuries force Steelers offense to adjust
Injuries force Steelers offense to adjust
By Mike Prisuta
Thursday, October 11, 2007
With a last-minute roster change, there was some confusion initially against the Seattle Seahawks, but Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense got over it.
"There were a couple of times we were like, 'No, you have this,' and 'You have this,'" Roethlisberger said. "Especially with Santonio (Holmes) going down -- we were expecting him to play -- we had to move guys around."
The loss of Holmes to a hamstring injury during the pregame warm-up Sunday compounded the issues at the wide receiver position, where the Steelers already were minus Hines Ward (knee).
It took about a quarter for everyone to get properly aligned and in-sync.
But with Nate Washington replacing Ward, Cedrick Wilson replacing Holmes and tight end Heath Miller playing wide receiver on occasion in four-receiver sets (minus Holmes, the Steelers only had three receivers available), a near record-setting afternoon ensued.
Roethlisberger completed his last 13 passes and found six targets, completing a season-high 81.8 percent in a 21-0 shellacking of Seattle. The Steelers record for consecutive completions is 15, set by Bubby Brister on Oct. 1, 1989 at Detroit.
"Mental fortitude," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said of his quarterback. "He grabbed those guys on the sideline right before the game and said, 'Make plays for me, and stay with me. If I scramble out, know the scramble rules.'
"We've all got a lot of confidence in Nate and 'Ced,' and Willie (Reid) stepped up real well. I've never dressed three wideouts before, but I've always said Heath's the fourth wideout. We knew he'd step up big."
After starting the afternoon 1 for 4 while directing an offense that managed one first down and 27 total yards in the first quarter, Roethlisberger locked in and thrived with the makeshift lineup.
He tossed what would be his last incompletion with 8:59 left in the second quarter, and the Steelers possessed the ball for 35:12 over the game's final 45 minutes.
"You have to give guys credit for being able to step up on the run," Roethlisberger said.
Once they settled in and got a feel for what the Seahawks were throwing at them defensively, the Steelers went about their business as they usually do on offense. The lineup may have been altered, but the approach was basically the same.
"It changed a little bit, but I don't think it changed dramatically," Roethlisberger said. "We still dominated in the running game, and we threw the ball, and we still had big plays.
"I didn't feel any different. Things were going well. I don't think there were any close calls -- balls didn't get tipped, maybe one or two. Guys got open, the line gave me time and we made plays."
Roethlisberger's passer rating of 120.8 also was a season high, as was his 9.4 yards per passing attempt. He threw at least one touchdown pass for the fifth consecutive game and had no interceptions for the third time this season.
"No interceptions, that's always a key," he said. "We knew there was no margin for error because we knew how dominant the Seattle offense could be.
"But our defense was playing so well that kind of gives you a boost of confidence. As a quarterback, knowing how well your defense is playing, I might be able to take a chance here or take a chance there.
"You call it 'the zone.' I didn't really feel like I was in 'the zone,' per say because we were running the ball a lot, and we were up. But I felt good. Someone told me afterwards about all the completions in a row; I had no idea. I was just trying to make plays."
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