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09-21-2009, 07:35 AM
Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill: Game 2 vs. Chicago Bears
Game ball goes to: Rashard Mendenhall
Monday, September 21, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On a four-play sequence in the third quarter, Rashard Mendenhall made the two biggest plays of his young career and showed that maybe he can be a difference-maker for the offense. The first came when he caught a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the left flat, fell down and got up to gain 13 yards to the Steelers' 44. Two plays later, he went 39 yards off the right side to the Bears' 2 to set up a touchdown that gave the Steelers a 14-7 lead. Before yesterday, his longest gain was 12 yards.
The countdown

A quick look at the top performances from the game yesterday:

1. SANTONIO HOLMES' DROPPED TD: The Super Bowl MVP dropped three passes, none bigger than a third-down throw from the Bears' 25 when he got behind CB Charles Tillman and let the ball go through his arms with less than four minutes remaining. That forced the Steelers to settle for a 43-yard field-goal attempt by Jeff Reed, who missed. "It was right there," Holmes said. "He happened to get his hands up at the last second and the ball kind of nudged his arm where I thought it was landing."

2. REED'S MISSED FGS: One game after delivering the ninth winning kick of his career, Jeff Reed missed field goals of 38 and 43 yards in the fourth quarter, the latter with 3:18 remaining. It was the first time in five years Reed has missed two FGs in a game.

3. CUTLER GOES DOWN THE MIDDLE AGAIN: Bears QB Jay Cutler took advantage of Troy Polamalu's absence by repeatedly attacking the middle of the field with his tight ends. The biggest was a 29-yard pass to Greg Olsen to the Steelers' 23 that set up the tying touchdown.

4. MENDENHALL'S LONG RUN: It wasn't just that he went 39 yards off the right side to the Bears' 2 to set up the go-ahead touchdown on a 2-yard bootleg by Ben Roethlisberger. It bettered by 27 yards his longest run since the Steelers drafted him with the top pick in 2008.

5. TIMMONS' DEFENSIVE HOLDING PENALTY: The Steelers had five penalties for 42 yards in the first half, none bigger than a defensive holding call against Lawrence Timmons after a third-down incompletion that kept alive a 97-yard touchdown drive that tied the score.

Inside the numbers: 14

That's how many passes Ben Roethlisberger threw in the direction of WR Santonio Holmes, who finished with five catches for 83 yards. But he also had three dropped passes. Hines Ward caught six of seven passes thrown in his direction.
What was he thinking?

Safety Tyrone Carter, who was beaten for the tying touchdown by Bears rookie receiver Johnny Knox with 6:21 remaining, said he should have called timeout before the play because he knew he couldn't stay with him in single coverage because of his injured left thigh. The Bears motioned their formation into an empty set on that play, forcing Carter into man coverage. "I think I kind of hurt my team by not coming out of the game or by not calling a timeout," Carter said. "I knew, with my leg, I couldn't cover him. No excuses."

"It's frustrating right now. We pride ourselves on closing the deal and we didn't get it done. We shoot for excellence. When you're that close, you have to close out the game." -- Willie Colon on losing in the fourth quarter
Up next

@ CINCINNATI BENGALS, 4:15 P.M. SUNDAY: The Steelers have won the past eight meetings at Paul Brown Stadium, including playoffs. The Bengals have averaged just 12.6 points in those eight games.
X's and O's

After not having a run longer than 8 yards against Tennessee, the Steelers had five of 12 yards or longer against the Bears to pump some life into their moribund running game. Parker had three of them (12, 12, 15), but it was Mendenhall who had the longest, breaking off a career-best 39-yard run to the Bears' 2 to set up Ben Roethlisberger's 2-yard TD run. Nearly all those runs came on counter plays behind RT Willie Colon and G Trai Essex. "We washed them out a couple times," Colon said. "But we have to stay consistent.
Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com.
First published on September 21, 2009 at 12:00 am

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