Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pro Sports

October 8, 2012

Late kick saves Steelers

PITTSBURGH — Not this time, Philadelphia.

Shaun Suisham hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 16-14 victory over the Eagles on Sunday.

The Eagles (3-2) took the lead on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick to Brent Celek with 6:33 remaining, but the Steelers responded by driving 64 yards to set up the winning kick, including a pair of key third-down conversions by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall ran for 81 yards and a touchdown in his first game of the season as the Steelers (2-2) avoided their first two-game losing streak in three years.

Vick completed 20 of 30 passes for 175 yards and two scores but fumbled twice for the Eagles, who couldn’t keep their string of narrow early-season victories going. LeSean McCoy rushed for 53 yards, and caught four passes for 27 yards and a touchdown for Philadelphia.

The Eagles trailed the whole way but put together a grinding 17-play, 79-yard drive at the start of the fourth quarter, converting a pair of risky fourth-downs, including one deep inside their own territory.

McCoy turned both fourth downs into first downs, twisting for the necessary yardage on fourth-and-inches at the Phila-delphia 30 then bulled for two yards on fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 47.

The drive seemed to wear the Steelers down and when Celek hauled in the short toss from Vick the Eagles were poised for their fourth escape in five weeks. Philadelphia won its first three games by a total of four points.

Instead, Roethlisberger put the Eagles on the other end of the equation.

After a penalty backed Pittsburgh up to its own 10, the Steelers methodically moved down the field. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for a 20-yard gain on third-and-12 at the Pittsburgh 18 and later found Emmanuel Sanders for seven yards on third-and-4 at the Philadelphia 38.

Mendenhall, making his season debut after recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, bolted for eight yards on the next play to get the Steelers well within Suisham’s range.

Three more runs put the ball at the Philadelphia 16, and rookie punter/holder Drew Butler had no problems with the snap in soggy conditions. The ball sailed through the uprights as the sideline erupted.

The Steelers came in looking to avoid their first 1-3 start under coach Mike Tomlin, but hardly played with the crispness of a team coming off its bye week. At one point Pittsburgh committed penalties on four consecutive snaps, one of them wiping out a 29-yard burst by Mendenhall.

Philadelphia wasn’t any better in a game that was pretty chippy for in-state “rivals” that meet when it counts only once every four years. There was a considerable amount of pushing and shoving after the whistle and flow of any variety was hard to come by.

Vick’s slick grip didn’t help matters. He officially fumbled twice in the first half — one that rolled into the end zone and the awaiting arms of Pittsburgh linebacker Larry Foote — and had another overturned on replay.

Pittsburgh’s offense found its footing first, with Mendenhall taking a lateral from Roethlis-berger and dashing 13 yards for a score midway through the second quarter. Pittsburgh made it 10-0 at the half on a 20-yard field goal by Suisham.

Philadelphia drew within 10-7 on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Vick to McCoy, setting up a dramatic fourth quarter.

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu left the game in the first quarter after aggravating his strained right calf.  Polamalu limped off the field following a fumble by Vick and  did not return. He was replaced by backup Ryan Mundy.

Polamalu missed each of Pittsburgh’s previous two games after injuring the calf in a season-opening loss in Denver.

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