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12-15-2008, 01:56 AM
Steelers define what they’re all about
Monday, December 15, 2008

BALTIMORE - As his team piled into the visitors locker room at M&T Bank Stadium, some bouncing off the walls and some ambling in as if they had expected this all along, Mike Tomlin put the issue to rest once and for all.

"Steeler Football is 60 minutes," the coach repeated at a decibel level loud enough to hear down the hall.

The rest is just details.

The Steelers needed some 59:52 of the 60 minutes they battled the Ravens on Sunday.

Their AFC North Division-clinching 13-9 triumph wasn't official until William Gay took a knee at the 11-yard line after intercepting Joe Flacco's desperation heave into the end zone.

Ben Roethlisberger was the next to take a knee.

Once that happened, it no longer mattered that Willie Parker had been held to 47 yards on 14 carries, or that the running game had produced just 91 yards overall and averaged 3.4 yards per attempt.

It was Parker who had publicly bemoaned the Steelers' recent habit of, in his estimation, too often giving up on the running game and, in the process, losing the identity of what he perceives "Steeler Football" to be all about.

Perhaps the "AFC North Division Champions" hats that were passed out in the locker room brought him back up to speed on what that really means.

It didn't matter that the winning touchdown, a remarkably resourceful pitch-and-catch between a scrambling Roethlisberger and a tight-roping Santonio Holmes on the money side of the goal line, was scored out of a two-tight ends set.

It didn't matter that Holmes had dropped a couple of passes and fumbled twice before making the play of the season.

It didn't matter that Holmes' touchdown wasn't a touchdown until enduring a replay review. (Max Starks said they would have gone for it on fourth-and-inches had it come to that.)

It didn't matter that the Steelers led for a mere 43 seconds against a Ravens team that had attacked and competed as hard as the Steelers.

What mattered was the 60 minutes.

What mattered was winning.

For long stretches, the Steelers appeared incapable of doing so, and the Ravens determined not to let them.

The visitors' first quarter featured a delay-of-game penalty, a dropped pass by Nate Washington, a false start on Willie Colon, a personal foul against Mewelde Moore, a dropped pass by Holmes, another drop by Washington, and punt returns of 18 and 46 yards surrendered to Baltimore's Jim Leonhard.

And the fourth quarter opened with Roethlisberger trying to make a play on third-and-1 from the Baltimore 24 but instead turning the ball over on what was first announced as an interception and then changed to a fumble.

Either way it was one of the worst plays Roethlisberger has ever made.

But when the Steelers got the ball back with 3:36 remaining and 92 yards separating them from the touchdown that would win the game, win the division, secure a first-round postseason bye and keep home field throughout the AFC playoffs within reach, Roethlisberger was the $100 Million Man.

"We hung together," Tomlin said. "Hopefully, that's the signature of Steeler Football for '08."

Their way is to find a way.

The rest is just details.