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fordfixer
10-27-2009, 02:03 AM
Notes: Tomlin stands by his starter

By: Mike Bires -
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... arter.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2009/october/27/notes-tomlin-stands-by-his-starter.html)

Tuesday October 27, 2009 12:17 AM

PITTSBURGH — Despite losing a fumble in each of the past two games, Rashard Mendenhall will not lose his starting job.

When the Steelers play the Broncos on a Nov. 9 Monday night game in Denver, Mendenhall will make his fifth start of the season at running back.

Coach Mike Tomlin isn’t happy about Mendenhall’s fumbling problems. But he isn’t even thinking about demoting Mendenhall.

“Not at this point, no,” Tomlin said. “Not at all.”

With the Steelers leading 13-10 Sunday, Mendehall lost a fumble at the Minnesota Vikings’ 3-yard line on the second play of the fourth quarter. Fortunately for Mendenhall, he wasn’t he goat as the Steelers later scored two defensive touchdowns in a 27-17 win.

Last week in a win over Cleveland, Mendenhall lost a third-quarter fumble at the Browns’ 15-yard line.

“The young fellow fumbled and every time he puts a helmet on, it’s a learning experience for him,” Tomlin said of Mendenhall, the Steelers’ first-round pick in last year’s draft. “Just a little careless in that instance.”

But after Mendenhall’s fumble against the Vikings, it was Mewelde Moore who carried the football three times on the Steelers’ last possession.

Did Moore’s presence at crunch time have something to do with Mendenhall’s fumbling issues?

“It did and it didn’t,” Tomlin said. “It just speaks to a level of trust we have in Mewelde. He’s closed games for us in the past. We feel comfortable with the ball in his hands.”

WHERE’S WILLIE?

Including three reverses by wide receivers, the Steelers ran only 18 running plays against the Vikings.

Mendenhall got 10 carries. Moore got four. But Willie Parker, who still hasn’t fully recovered from a turf toe injury, touched the ball just once.

It’s the fewest amount of carries for Parker since he broke his leg on his first carry in Game 15 of the 2007 season.

So why didn’t Parker, the starter from 2005-2008, play more?

“I think we had the ball 23 minutes (during the game)” Tomlin said. “We had a couple of three-and-outs and things of that nature. You’re not going to find rhythm within games like that.”

WARD CATCH

Hines Ward, the Steelers’ all-time leading receiver, did extend his streak of consecutive games with a catch, but just barely.

Ward caught one pass for 3 yards. That came midway in the first quarter. Ward didn’t catch a pass the rest of the game. Ward did bruise his tailbone at one point in the first half but wouldn’t use that as an excuse.

“It was a little stiff. But no, I don’t really think it affected me,” Ward said. “Their defense was taking me away on certain things. And there was nothing I could really do about it.”

Ward has now caught a pass in a team-record 169 games.

LONG WAY TO GO

While the Steelers (5-2) were delighted to hand the Vikings (6-1) their first loss, they don’t think it’s time to start printing playoff tickets.

Ward doesn’t even think Sunday’s win was a statement game that proves the Steelers are bona fide contenders.

“I don’t know,” Ward said. “It was a great atmosphere, a playoff atmosphere (with) the most fans ever at Heinz Field. (They were) 6-0, but we still have a lot of games left. It’s great to go into the bye week at 5-2. We’re stacking wins.”