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Old 12-20-2009, 09:52 PM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default No packing it in

No packing it in
By SteelCityInsider.com

Posted Dec 20, 2009

The Steelers edge the Packers in the first 37-36 game in NFL history.

PITTSBURGH – Stuck in the malaise of a five-game losing streak with a defense that hasn't stopped anyone in a month, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed a monumental effort from their offense Sunday against the Green Bay Packers if they hoped to win.

They got one.

Ben Roethlisberger threw just two completions to rookie receiver Mike Wallace, but both were very meaningful. Roethlisberger passed for a team-record 503 yards and connected with Wallace for a 60-yard touchdown pass on Pittsburgh’s first offensive play, then found him for a 19-yard TD reception on the game’s final play, as the Steelers pulled out an improbable 37-36 victory here at Heinz Field over the Packers.

The victory, the first 37-36 game in NFL history, not only ended the Steelers’ five-game losing streak, it also kept Pittsburgh relevant in the AFC playoff picture.

The Steelers (7-7) and five other teams trail Baltimore and Denver, both of which are 8-6, for the AFC wildcard spots. But Pittsburgh has already beaten Denver earlier this season and hosts Baltimore last week

“We’re not dead yet,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “The guys made enough plays and we hadn’t won in a while, so it feels good. We’ve got a little pulse here. Hopefully, we can use this as a little momentum and get ready to play Baltimore next week.”

It was a victory that nearly got away from the Steelers.

Leading 24-14 entering the fourth quarter, the Steelers squandered a lead in the final 15 minutes for the sixth time this season. But unlike the previous five times, Pittsburgh recovered.

Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns with one rushing touchdown, pulled the Packers to within 24-21 with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jermichael Finley just over one minute into the fourth quarter.

The Steelers answered with a 37-yard Jeff Reed field goal to go up 27-21, but Rodgers completed three passes to set up a 24-yard touchdown run by Ryan Grant with 7:58 remaining in the game to give Green Bay its first lead, 28-27.

The Steelers drove from their own 31 to the Green Bay 23, but an 11-yard scramble from Roethlisberger was negated by a holding penalty and Pittsburgh settled for a 43-yard Reed field goal and a 30-28 lead with 4:03 remaining.

That’s when Tomlin decided to roll the dice.

After watching Rodgers dice up his defense throughout the game, Tomlin decided to attempt an onside kick that cornerback Ike Taylor touched just before it had gone the required 10 yards.

Green Bay was awarded possession at the Pittsburgh 39.

“Based on the way the game was going in the second half, first of all I thought with the element of surprise, we had a chance to recover it,” said Tomlin. “But if we didn’t get it and they were to score, then we would have the necessary time on the clock to score or match their score.”

Rodgers did his part in Tomlin’s plan, putting the Packers ahead with a 24-yard TD pass to James Jones with 2:12 remaining. He then completed a two-point conversion pass to running back Brandon Jackson to give Green Bay a 36-30 advantage.

The offense responded with perhaps its drive of the season.

The Packers squibbed the ensuing kick and it dribbled past return men Joe Burnett and Stefan Logan. Logan finally picked up the ball, but only returned it to the 14.

The Steelers overcame two penalties of their own with the help of three in the secondary by Green Bay. But Roethlisberger also threw a 32-yard completion to Santonio Holmes on fourth-and-seven from the Pittsburgh 22, and a 20-yard completion to tight end Heath Miller on third-and-14 from the Pittsburgh 44 to keep the drive alive.

Then, after getting the ball to the Green Bay 19 with 24 seconds remaining, things really got interesting.

Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Wallace on first down, then overthrew Hines Ward in the end zone on second down to leave just three seconds remaining.

On third down, Wallace was matched up one-on-one on the left side of the formation with cornerback Josh Bell. At the snap, much of Green Bay’s attention shifted to Ward, Holmes and Miller. Roethlisberger fired the ball toward Wallace, who was jostling with Bell along the sideline in the end zone.

Wallace, who had gotten stitches in his knee earlier in the second half, reached out of bounds, snatched the ball out of the air and kept both feet on the ground while falling.

The touchdown pass was Roethlisberger’s third of the game. Pittsburgh also got a rushing touchdown from Rashard Mendenhall.
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