Gerry Dulac's Two-Minute Drill
Game 15 vs. Dolphins
Monday, January 04, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Game ball goes to: RB Willie Parker
In what might have been his final performance with the Steelers, the former two-time Pro Bowler rushed for 91 yards on only 12 carries -- his second-highest total of a season in which he lost his starting job to Rashard Mendenhall. But Parker, who will be a free agent, had 74 yards on nine carries on the final 83-yard drive, including a 34-yarder to the Miami 8 to set up Jeff Reed's final FG. "If that was my last game, I had six great years here," Parker said. "I'm a starter and I've always looked at myself as a starter."
The countdown - A quick look at the top performances from yesterday's game:
1. RYAN CLARK'S REDEMPTION: After being victimized on big pass plays in losses in Kansas City and Baltimore, S Ryan Clark came up with his biggest interception of the season -- two plays after Roethlisberger fumbled and Miami LB Joey Porter recovered at the Steelers' 13 with 6:56 remaining. Clark made a diving interception on a pass intended for WR Ted Ginn Jr. at the Steelers' 2, ending the Chiefs bid to take the lead or at least tie the score, 27-27. The Steelers then went 83 yards to kick a FG.
2. THE FINAL DRIVE: Starting at their 2, the Steelers used 5 1/2 minutes and went 83 yards for Reed's 33-yard FG with 40 seconds remaining. The drive consisted of nine Parker runs for 74 yards and three Roethlisberger passes for 24 yards.
3. RECURRING THEMES: Thigpen made two big pass plays against the Steelers to cut the lead to 27-24 -- a 27-yard catch-and-run to TE Anthony Fasano over ILB James Farrior and a 34-yard TD to Bess after he had beaten Townsend.
4. IT'S MILLER TIME: Roethlisberger threw three touchdown pass, none more deftly than a 3-yarder in the back of the end zone to tight end Heath Miller in which he avoided pressure to buy time. The score capped a nine-play, 90-yard drive to make it 24-10.
5. WARDING OFF INJURY: Playing with two bad hamstrings, Hines Ward had a game-high eight catches for 61 yards, none bigger than a 13-yarder on third-and-5 from his 7 to keep alive an 83-yard drive that resulted in the final field goal.
Inside the numbers - 3
That's the number of interceptions by the Steelers' defense, tying a season high set in Denver. Two of the interceptions were by Deshea Townsend and Ike Taylor, the first interceptions by a CB this season.
What was he thinking?
The Dolphins had to use three QBs after starter Chad Henne was hit in the eye late in the first half and backup Pat White was carted off the field with a concussion in the third quarter. But, after Thigpen rallied the Dolphins with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make it 27-24, he tried to force a throw to Ted Ginn Jr. on second down from the Steelers' 16 that was intercepted by Ryan Clark. Why not play for the tying field goal? "Those are just balls that I can't throw," Thigpen said.
"If this was the last one, I'd rather we go out with a win than a loss. There's not much that we can do, but I'm proud of the way we fought today and played hard. It was a disappointing regular season."
-- QB Ben Roethlisberger on the victory
X's and O's
After blowing fourth-quarter leads in six of their seven losses, the Steelers almost did it again against the Dolphins, this time after taking a 27-10 lead with 13:57 left. Behind third-team QB Tyler Thigpen, the Dolphins scored on a 16-yard reverse by WR Brian Hartline and a 34-yard pass to Davone Bess over Deshea Townsend to make it 27-24. It started to look more ominous when Ben Roethlisberger fumbled on a sack at his 13. "I think we let down a little," Townsend said.
NFL DRAFT: After reevaluating the team's talent, the Steelers will start to get ready for the draft, which will be spread over three days -- April 22-24 -- in 2010 with just the first round being held April 22.
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