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Old 11-29-2010, 06:06 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' ugly victory still counts

Steelers' ugly victory still counts
By John Harris
Monday, November 29, 2010

A month from now, no one will remember the score. Only that the Steelers won a game they were supposed to win, and the Buffalo Bills lost a game they were expected to lose.

"Good road victory for us, and by that I mean things didn't always go our way," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in describing Sunday's 19-16 overtime win. "We didn't play as well as we'd like to play, from an execution standpoint. It looked bleak at times, but we didn't have a bleak approach to our work on the sideline."

Bleak? Calling the Steelers' three-point victory over the 2-9 Bills bleak is a major league stretch. In the NFL, a win is a win is a win.

OK, so the Steelers were a dropped Steve Johnson touchdown catch from being upset by a team that is still learning how to win close games against good teams.

Buffalo fans should be encouraged by the excellent job that first-year coach Chan Gailey is doing. The Bills are a lot closer to respectability than their record would indicate. But they still have a long way to go before they catch the Steelers.

Buffalo has lost three overtime games this season. The Bills also lost in overtime to Kansas City and Baltimore -- the same Ravens who host the Steelers next Sunday night for first place in the AFC North.

I don't see the Ravens giving back their win over Buffalo, one in which they squandered a big lead (Sound familiar?) And I don't expect the Steelers to say yesterday's win was tainted, nor should they.

"The speech is always the same when you win," defensive captain James Farrior said in describing Tomlin's postgame words to the team.

In other words, the Steelers would rather be lucky than good.

Bad teams like Buffalo lose close games.

Good teams like the Steelers win them.

"You have to tip your hat to Pittsburgh because they are used to big games," Bills safety Bryan Scott said.

When it comes right down to it, the game got too big for the Bills. The Steelers know the feeling.

A year ago, the Steelers resembled the Bills. They lost five games by three points each and missed the playoffs.

This season, the Steelers are 2-1 in games decided by three points or fewer.

Coincidence? No.

"Our games are always like this. For some reason, that's how our games end," cornerback Ike Taylor said. "We knew this wasn't going to be a soft team. We could see it on film."

Taylor lived life in the fast lane against Buffalo. His break-up of a sure touchdown pass to Lee Evans late in the fourth quarter forced the Bills to settle for a field goal and sent the game into overtime. In the extra session, Taylor watched along with the rest of his teammates as a wide-open Johnson dropped the sure touchdown pass that would have won the game.

Strong safety Ryan Clark defended his teammates. He insisted the game was won before Johnson's drop.

"The biggest thing was that guys stepped up and made plays," Clark said.

Nickel back William Gay deflected a fourth-quarter pass that was intercepted by strong safety Troy Polamalu, who also recovered a Buffalo fumble in the third quarter that was forced by outside linebacker James Harrison.

The same Buffalo offense that scored 49 points against Cincinnati, 34 points against Baltimore and 30 points against New England managed only one touchdown against the Steelers.

"We're starting to make strides in the right direction," said Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (seven receptions for 107 yards). "We're not playing our best football, but we can learn from what we had to overcome today."

That's what good teams do. That's why the Steelers are the Steelers, and the Bills are the Bills.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 11-29-2010, 04:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' ugly victory still counts

The biggest point being lost here is that we only gave up 16 points to a very good offense! Baltimore and New England both gave up over 30 points. Not that that's our standard but not a bad defense yesterday!
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