View Full Version : Ward's milestone dampened by loss

09-28-2009, 12:53 AM
Steelers Notebook: Ward's milestone dampened by loss
Wallace likely wins spot as No. 3 WR with impact game
Monday, September 28, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The problem for Hines Ward is that his career milestone came with a millstone yesterday. He became the first Steelers receiver to catch 10,000 yards worth of passes and he had to hit that mark in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Needing 60 yards coming in to hit 10,000, Ward caught four passes for 82 yards. He has 10,022 yards.

"It means nothing to me now," Ward said. "It's a great milestone but starting the season off 1-2, all the milestones and records, I can't even think about that right now."
Wallace the one

Mike Wallace likely has won the No. 3 receiving spot yesterday for two very big reasons. He became the first rookie since Santonio Holmes in 2006 to have a 100-yard game.

Wallace, a third-round draft choice fromMississippi, caught seven passes for 102 yards. Those included a 51-yarder in which he would have scored a touchdown except he stepped out of bounds at the Cincinnati 10.

The Steelers had to settle for a 24-yard Jeff Reed field goal on that.

Combined with another drop by Limas Sweed in the end zone and Wallace has outpaced Sweed, the team's second-round pick in 2008, for the No. 3 job behind Holmes and Ward.
Fullback unsettled

Another rookie, tight end David Johnson, made his first start at fullback but that did not last long, leaving the game with a lower leg injury on the second series.

Johnson became the second rookie to start at fullback in two games. Frank Summers started against Chicago but Summers, apparently not blocking up to the coaches' standards, was inactive yesterday.

After Johnson left, the Steelers used another rookie, guard/tackle Ramon Foster, as a third tight end, but he was not used in the backfield as a fullback. The Steelers went mostly with a one-back after that, although tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth did line up as fullbacks a few times.
Replacement player

Maybe it was because safety Tyrone Carter was injured, or maybe it was because they wanted better pass coverage. But, for most of the game, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would replace Carter with cornerback Deshea Townsend in the base defense whenever the Bengals would use three wide receivers.

"When they got in passing situations we did that," said Carter, who wore a protective pad over his left thigh contusion -- an injury he suffered a week ago in Chicago. "I don't know if it was [because I was injured.] Maybe he felt that. I just went with it."
Taylor-made plays

Cornerback Ike Taylor was credited with four passes defensed, three of which came on the final series when he made several big plays to deprive Chad Ochocinco of a touchdown.

He got his right hand up to deflect a pass to Ochocinco on a third-and-2 play from the Steelers' 20, then two plays later made a diving deflection on a crossing route to the former Chad Johnson.

"We have to do something to finish these games," Taylor said. "These teams aren't going to walk in and let us win the game. We have to learn to finish."
First time sweetest

The Bengals' victory was the first against the Steelers in Cincinnati for coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Carson Palmer. The Steelers won the past eight games at Paul Brown Stadium.

Lewis downplayed ending the streak, but Palmer didn't even try. You might remember it was just a few years ago that he said he "hated" the Steelers, in large part, because they were so much more successful than the Bengals.

"It's huge. It's a big home victory against a good team," Palmer said. "They're the defending champs. The locker room was ecstatic after the game."
Bengals look to Palmer

The Bengals look at Palmer the way the Steelers do quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. They never feel as if they're out of a game with him in the huddle. Palmer didn't let them down in this game, leading them on 85- and 71-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to bring them back from a 20-9 deficit.

"He feels no pressure," said running back Brian Leonard, who caught a key fourth-down pass from Palmer on the winning drive. Added Lewis, "[Palmer] feels comfortable, and he's very collected at those points in the game. It just speaks to his maturity, his leadership abilities and his command of what we're doing."
Searching for turnovers

For a second consecutive week, the Steelers defense failed to force a turnover. Last year, what is virtually the same defense forced eight turnovers in the first three games and had only four games when it failed to get one.

"We didn't hold up our end of the bargain," said Carter, making his second start in lieu of injured All Pro Troy Polamalu, said. "We're finding ways to lose games instead of finding ways to win games. We have to find ways to make winning plays."
Offense missing late

The Steelers outgained the Bengals 152 to minus-10 in the first period, but were outgained, 283-221, from that point and, 139-19, in the fourth quarter.

"It's frustrating because I felt like all game we were in control," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "Even when they made the big pick, we were playing tough, then things shifted on us. They made a great drive at the end."
Interception was huge

As important as the two fourth-quarter drives were, the Bengals said cornerback Johnathan Joseph's interception of a Roethlisberger pass and 30-yard return for a touchdown early in the third quarter was just as significant. That pulled the Bengals to within 13-9.

"You get a chance to get back in the football game without having to drive the field for a touchdown," Lewis said. "They don't give up many big plays on defense, so any time you score against them, you probably have to drive the field. That was a quick strike, similar to having an explosive play on offense."
Extra points

Linebacker James Harrison, who set the Steelers record with 16 sacks last season, broke the ice and got his first. LaMarr Woodley remains shut out there. Casey Hampton got the other Steelers sack yesterday, his first as well. ... Ward was whistled for two offensive pass interference penalties, a rare call. One came on what looked like a pick play. ... Roethlisberger had won his previous 12 starts against AFC North Division teams. ... Cedric Benson's 23-yard touchdown run it the fourth-quarter was the season's first rushing touchdown against the Steelers. ... The Bengals didn't force a Steelers punt until the fourth quarter.

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