The Steelers entered the game Sunday in Glendale against the Arizona Cardinals with a 4-2 record, but left with a lot more than another win on their side. When Ben Roethlisberger threw a 95-yard pass to receiver Mike Wallace, the longest reception in Steelers history, the Steelers knew that not only was their quarterback tough enough to endure, but that they have solidly landed a receiving corps that can threaten opponents regardless of the position on the field. Regardless of the defense thrown at the Steelers’ receivers and rushers, they continued to eat up yardage that helped propel a Pittsburgh team that has found a new gear and a few new soldiers to use in battle on the gridiron. The defense was tenacious and able to hold Beanie Wells and Larry Fitzgerald to just 120 combined yards and no touchdowns. The Steelers simply handed the Cardinals another loss in a string of losses (five this season).
Roethlisberger was hurried and pressured, but while the offensive line provided more protection (only allowing Roethlisberger to be sacked once), he was able to complete 26 of 39 passes for 361 yards. He found Heath Miller for a 12-yard touchdown reception, a four yard toss to Emmanuel Sanders and the ‘big one’ to Mike Wallace. When Wallace hauled in the deep pass the crowd-noise was boistrous, but not with booing; there were so many Steelers fans at The University of Phoenix Stadium that the Cardinals fans merely had to sit and watch. The drive started at Pittsburgh’s nine-yard-line, and was hindered on the first play due to a false start penalty that pushed them back to the five-yard-line. When Roethlisberger dropped back to pass he found Wallace had beaten Arizona cornerback Richard Marshall along the sideline. The ball sailed across the field and into Wallace’s hands as if he and Roethlisberger had simply been playing catch in the back yard. Wallace, a speedster, outran the nearest defenders for an easy score. With 8:09 left in the first half, the Steelers were ahead 14-0.
“You put it out there for a guy like [Wallace] and you start smiling,” Roethlisberger said, “because you know he is not going to get caught.”
“Their guy jumped outside,” Wallace said, “and let me get inside. The safety was in the middle of the field, so I just threw my hand up.”
Arizona went into the locker room down 17-7, but were able to get back into the game in the third quarter when Kevin Kolb threw a short pass over the middle to LaRod Stephens-Howling, who proceeded to outrun the Steelers defenders for a 73-yard touchdown play. The Cardinals were only able to gain another score by field goal, and their 2-point play stalled as the Steelers defense stood firm. Kolb was 18 of 34 for 272 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Kolb was also sacked in the end zone by LaMarr Woodley, giving the Steelers two more points (enforced as a safety) to their total.
“I still don’t think we are there,” Roethlisberger said. “I think we are getting closer, There are still some things we can do to get better but that is good. It is early in the year still and we need to make those improvements. We don’t want to be just clicking at 100 percent now. We want to be winning games and moving forward.”
The Steelers wracked up 445 total yards in preparation for next Sunday’s meeting with New England at Heinz Field.
Safety Ryan Clark was able to retrieve a Kolb pass that hit rookie tight end Rob Housler in the helmet and return the interception for 10 yards. It came right after the opening kickoff, and seemed to be a huge motivator to the team. A mere five plays later, Roethlisberger found tight end Heath Miller open in the end zone for a touchdown.
Cornerback Ike Taylor had his hands full covering mainly the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald. Although he was flagged for intereference twice, Taylor remained physical and helped stall the Cardinals offense.
Shaun Suisham kicked field goals of 41, 42 and 39 yards for the Steelers (scoring 12 points overall in the game).
Heath Miller caught four passes and advanced past Hall-of-Famer Franco Harris to be ranked sixth in Steelers career receptions with 308.
The previous longest passing play for the Steelers was 90 yards, set by Terry Bradshaw to Mark Malone (a rookie quarterback who was filling in at receiver for an injured Lynn Swann) against Seattle in 1981. Bubby Brister threw a 90-yard pass to Dwight Stone against the Denver Broncos in 1990. Kordell Stewart slashed a long ball to Bobby Shaw in 2001 against Baltimore. Roethlisberger’s throw to Wallace is the second-longest play from scrimmage for Pittsburgh. Bobby Gage set the longest play from scrimmage against Chicago with a 97-yard run in 1949.
Game Ball Award
LaMarr Woodley had two sacks and forced a safety by grabbing Kolb in the Arizona end zone. If the play hadn’t been ruled a safety, Woodley would have been awarded three sacks to go with his 7 tackles. The former Michigan Wolverine is on track with 7 sacks this season and could easily pass his career record of 13.5 in 2009. For his fierce play Sunday, Woodley is the Pittsburgh Steelers Examiner’s game ball award recipient this week. Congrats, Wood!
Hines Ward had to be removed from the game Sunday and was carted into the locker room. It was later discovered that Ward has a sprained ankle and may be out for an indefinite time.
Team Leaders (in Sunday’s game)
- B. Roethlisberger: 26/39, 361 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
- R. Mendenhall: 13 carries for 32 yards rushing
- I. Redman: 6 carries for 29 yards rushing
- M. Wallace: 3 catches for 118 yards, 1 TD
- A. Brown: 7 catches for 102 yards
- H. Miller: 4 catches for 59 yards, 1 TD
- E. Sanders: 5 catches for 47 yards, 1 TD
No one guessed the final score for Sunday’s game. Come back and read pre-game articles over the rest of the season for your chance to win!
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Every week, Christina watches the game with Steelers fan groups online, especially on Facebook. She also runs her Twitter feed during games. This week Christina joined the Facebook group, ‘BlackNGoldBlitz’.
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