Steelers keep their balance on offense against Miami Dolphins
Pittsburgh passed for 220 yards and ran for another 202, but with the game on the line, it relied on its ground game and backup running back Willie Parker.
BY PETE PELEGRIN
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Maybe it was all the gold Terrible Towels being waved around Land Shark Stadium on Sunday afternoon that made the Dolphins' home seem like Heinz Field.
Or maybe the Steelers' balanced offense that built a three-score lead and eventually sealed the game late in the fourth quarter of a 30-24 win is no mirage.
Pittsburgh rushed for 202 yards and passed for 220 yards. The Steelers built a 27-10 lead early in the fourth quarter and did not have to punt until the third quarter.
The Steelers arrived in Miami with the No. 4 offense in the AFC and No. 8 in the NFL. Last year, Pittsburgh had the No. 11 offense in the AFC and No. 22 in the NFL.
``I feel like we had our moments when we were unstoppable,'' said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns. ``We had moments when we stopped ourselves and moments when the defense stopped us. I think it's the building blocks for us. I think we're a very young on offense. I really think the sky could be the limit for us.''
But with the Dolphins cutting the lead to 27-24, the Steelers relied on their ground game in the fourth quarter.
Ahead 27-24 with 6:10 to play, the Steelers began their game-clinching drive at their 2 after an interception by Ryan Clark.
Led by backup running back Willie Parker, Pittsburgh marched 83 yards and took 5:30 off the clock to end any hopes of a Dolphins comeback.
Kicker Jeff Reed kicked a 33-yard field goal to extend the Pittsburgh lead to 30-24 with 40 seconds left in the game.
``When [the Dolphins] made that run in the fourth quarter -- the way we had to go 98 yards -- it showed a lot of character of our players, our team, coaches,'' said Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward, who had a team-leading eight receptions for 61 yards.
Parker, who lost the starting job to Rashard Mendenhall earlier this season, rushed for 74 of the 83 yards the Steelers gained on the drive.
``We just ran the ball, ran the ball, ran the ball until we lulled them to sleep,'' said Parker, who had 91 yards on 12 carries.
``I think that's what we are. We're the Pittsburgh Steelers, and we're known for running the ball.''
Parker had a 15-yard run, then his 34-yard run took the Steelers to the Dolphins' 8 with 2:00 left to play.
``That was all Willie,'' Roethlisberger said. ``He ran the ball so well. The offensive line opened up holes, and Willie just ran hard. It speaks volumes of what kind of person and player Willie is for the way he was patient and took us down the field.''