2009 Steelers 13 vs Titans 10 Overtime TNF
A brutally physical game. After a sluggish start and despite facing intense pressure all evening in this Thursday Night season-opener, Big Ben finds his form as the game progresses, using his trademark scrambling ability to buy time and allow his receivers to get open. Roethlisberger finishes with 363 passing yards and completes 16 of 18 throws in the 4th quarter and OT. Features an amazing, leaping INT by Troy Polamalu in the 1st quarter. Unfortunately, Polamalu injures his knee and misses the 2nd half (as well as many games to come). James Harrison comes up big with a forced fumble and Aaron Smith's block of a chip-shot Rob Bironas (RIP) FG attempt near the end of the half proves critical. The Steelers seem to be in perfect position to win in the final minute of regulation when Ben hits Hines Ward for a 30-yd gain to the Titans' 4-yd line, but the veteran fumbles the ball away which costs Pittsburgh a potential winning FG attempt, instead sending the game to OT. Thankfully, the Steelers win the coin toss and Ben does his thing, hitting 5 of 7 including a 22-yd pass to rookie Mike Wallace to the Titan 15 where Tomlin wastes little time in sending in Reed to kick the 33-yd game winner.
2009 Steelers 14 at Bears 17
A game the Steelers could've and should've won if not for missed kicks by Jeff Reed. Each of the Steelers' final 2 drives lasts 10 plays and each takes more than 8 minutes off the clock. Unfortunately, each drive also ends with a wide-left FG attempt by Reed. The first miss from the Chicago 20 denies the Steelers an opportunity to take a 17-7 lead early in the 4th. The second miss, coming after Chicago ties the score on a Cutler TD pass, comes from the Chicago 25 with just over 3 minutes remaining. That leaves enough time for Cutler to engineer an 8-play drive capped by Robbie Gould's game-winning 44-yd FG in the rain with 11 seconds remaining.
2009 Steelers 20 at Bengals 23
Despite jumping out to an early 13-point lead and owning a statistical edge in nearly every category, the Steelers find multiple ways to lose this mistake-filled head-scratcher of a game. That Limas Sweed drops (another) sure TD in the end zone is no surprise. Settling for FG's after driving inside the opponent's 5-yd line is also sadly no surprise. But the 4th quarter collapse for the 2nd straight week by a once-proud Steeler defense IS a surprise, and it establishes a disturbing pattern that will repeat itself thoughout 2009. A failed 4th down conversion at the end of the half leads to a Bengals FG, and miscommunication between Ben and Holmes early in the 3rd results in a pick-6 to give the Bengals 9 easy points and keep them in the game. Despite a missed FG following Sweed's TD drop, the Steelers carry a 20-9 lead into the 4th quarter thanks to a Roethlisberger 1-yd TD on a QB sneak. But then comes the defensive implosion. The Steelers allow the Bengals to covert three 4th down attempts, two of them coming on their marathon 16-play, 71-yd game-winning drive in the final minutes, including a back-breaking 11-yd pass over Farrior on 4th and 10 -- 4TH AND 10, people!!! -- which sets up Palmer's 4-yd TD pass to steal the win.
2009 Steelers 38 vs Chargers 28 SNF
Big Ben gets off to a fast start (26 of 33, 333 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT), Rashard Mendenhall surpasses his previous career total with 165 yds rushing and 2 TDs on 29 carries, Heath Miller catches 2 TD passes and Hines Ward hauls in 8 passes for 113 yds as the Steelers score TDs on 4 of their first 5 drives, opening up a 28-0 lead and then holding off a late Charger rally. San Diego is outgained nearly 4-to-1 until the 4th quarter, when Rivers hits TD passes to Antonio Gates and Chris Chambers and Jacob Hester scores on a 41-yard fumble return to suddenly make the blowout close.
2009 Steelers 28 at Lions 20
Ben Roethlisberger victimizes the Detroit secondary for 3 TDs (Miller, Ward, Wallace) and James Harrison terrorizes Dante Culpepper, recording 3 of Pittsburgh's 7 sacks and forcing a fumble as the Steelers invade Ford Field to earn their first road win of the season. Despite being outplayed, the Lions drive to the Steelers 21 with 2 minutes left and threaten to tie the game. But the Steeler defense stiffens and Culpepper is nailed for 3 consecutive sacks, losing 24 yds before his desperation 4th-and-34 pass falls incomplete to the delight of overwhelming numbers of black-and-gold-clad road fans (my youngest son and I among them).
2009 Steelers 27 vs Browns 14
Roethlisberger throws for 417 yds and 2 TDs, Ward makes 8 catches for 159 yds and a TD, Santonio Holmes snags 5 for 104 and Pittsburgh outgains Cleveland 543-197. Even so, the game is sloppy with each team committing 4 turnovers -- including 2 apiece in the span of 1-1/2 minutes -- allowing the Browns manage to hang around until late in the 3rd thanks to an electrifying 98-yd kickoff return by Josh Cribbs before halftime. A controversial first down call when it appears Big Ben might have been stopped inches short on 3rd down extends a drive and leads to a Jeff Reed FG, and a Ryan Clark INT ends Cleveland's last gasp. Josh Cribbs also throws an INT (out of wildcat formation) to Troy Polamalu, back in the lineup after missing 4 games with a torn knee ligament.
2009 Steelers 27 vs Vikings 17
Big Ben vs Brett Farve in a game I attended on a beautiful afternoon in Pittsburgh. LaMarr Woodley's 77-yd fumble return and Keyaron Fox's 82-yd interception return on turnovers by Brett Favre allow the Steelers to turn back repeated 4th quarter comeback attempts by the previously undefeated Vikings. With Minnesota leading 7-3 courtesy of an Adrian Peterson TD, Big Ben conducts a brilliant 2-minute drill covering 91 yds, hitting 5 passes for 85 yds including a 40-yd TD strike to Mike Wallace just before the half. The teams trade FGs in the 3rd quarter for a 13-10 Pittsburgh lead heading into a WILD 4th quarter. With under 7 minutes remaining, the Vikings drive deep into Steeler territory and face a 3rd and goal from the 8 when Brett Kiesel loops behind Farve, reaches out and strips the ball. LaMarr Woodley scoops up the loose ball, breaks would-be tackles by Steve Hutchinson and Favre, picks up a convoy of blockers and races 77-yds for what appears to be a decisive TD and a 20-10 Steelers lead. Unfortunately, Percy Harvin weaves his way 88-yds for a TD on the ensuing kickoff (aided by one of the weakest attempted tackles in NFL history by Jeff Reed) and the Vikings are right back in it. With under 2 minutes left, the Vikings again mount a drive deep into Pittsburgh territory (featuring Adrian Peterson's infamous "truck" of William Gay), this time getting as close as the Steeler 19. But with 1:15 left, reserve LB Keyaron Fox gathers in a Farve pass that bounces off Chester Taylor's hands and streaks 82 yds down the right sideline to put the final nail in Minnesota's coffin.
2009 Steelers 28 at Broncos 10 MNF
Rashard Mendenhall plows through the Broncos for 155 yds on 22 carries, Ben hits 21 of 29 for 233 yds and 3 TDs (2 to Hines Ward) and Tyrone Carter (subbing for Ryan Clark) intercepts 2 Kyle Orton passes, including 48-yd pick-6. The Steelers dominate time of possession and out-rush Denver 173-27 as Josh McDaniel's Broncos -- who started the season 6-0 -- lose their 2nd straight in the midst of a season collapse that will see them lose 8 of their final 10 games. Thanks to Barry Blyler for providing this game!
2009 Steelers 12 vs Bengals 18
This is an ugly, UGLY loss for Pittsburgh. Not only does it bump the Steelers into 2nd place behind the Bengals; it kicks off a devastating 5-game losing streak -- all by 7 points or less -- including a pair of overtime losses. Following a Pittsburgh FG -- the first of 8 total FGs on the day -- Cinci scores the only TD of the game on Bernard Scott's 96-yd kick return, marking the 3rd time in 4 games the Steelers' kick team allowed a return for a TD. The loss marks the first time in 11 years the Bengals swept the Steelers. Thanks to Barry Blyler for contributing this game!
2009 Steelers 24 at Chiefs 27 Overtime
The season starts to unravel on a game the Steelers should've won. Despite dominating the first half, Pittsburgh gives up a 97-yd return for a TD on the opening kickoff, then plays down to the competition in the second half. The Steelers outgain K.C. 516-282 and own a 2-1 edge in time of possession, but a pair of 2nd half INTs (including one in the end zone that is returned 94 yds) lead to 10 points for KC and the game goes to overtime. Roethlisberger hits 32 of 42 for 398 yds and 3 TD before taking a knee to the helmet in overtime, sidelining him with a concussion. The Steelers are forced to punt after Ben's injury and on the ensuing drive, Ike Taylor appears to intercept a Matt Cassell pass, but the ball squirts free when Taylor hits the turf. On the next play, Cassell dumps a short pass to Chris Chambers, who finds a seam and sprints 61 yds to the Steeler 4, setting up Succop's game-winning chip shot. Thanks to Barry Blyler for contributing this game!
2009 Steelers 17 at Ravens 20 Overtime SNF
Big Ben is out with a concussion and Charlie Batch is out with a broken wrist, so Dennis Dixon gets his first NFL start. Dixon plays fairly well in regulation, throwing for one TD and running for another. But a Dixon INT in overtime sets up Cundiff's game-winning FG, handing Pittsburgh their third straight loss. Troy Polamalu also sits out due to injury and the defense suffers. With Baltimore facing 4th and 5 late in the 4th quarter, the defense gives up an embarrassing 44-yd catch-and-run to Ray Rice in which the Steelers suffer multiple badly missed tackles, allowing the Ravens to send the game to overtime. Thanks to Barry Blyler for providing this game!
2009 Steelers 24 vs Raiders 27
Mike Tomlin's infamous "unleash hell" game. With the Steelers leading 10-6 after 3-1/2 quarters of lackluster play, the two teams suddenly explode for 5 touchdowns in the final 8 minutes. Raiders backup QB Bruce Gradkowski has the finest game of his entire career (by far), throwing a trio of 4th quarter TDs including the game winner with 15 seconds left as the Steelers give up nearly 400 yds to the leagues 2nd-worst offense and shockingly lose their 4th straight game. Kudos to Barry Blyler for providing this game.
2009 Steelers 6 at Browns 13 TNF
The Steelers 5th straight defeat is the most unforgivable loss of the 2009 season as the reigning Super Bowl Champs fall to the putrid 1-11 Browns, who rank dead last in the league on both offense and defense. Roethlisberger is sacked 10 times and while Brady Quinn completes only 6 of 19 passes for 90 yds in the cold and wind, Josh Cribbs cuts the Steelers to shreds, running for 87 of Cleveland's 171 rushing yards and adding 104 punt/kick return yds. Thanks to Barry Blyler for contributing this game.
2009 Steelers 37 vs Packers 36
In a dogfight virtually devoid of running plays or pass defense on either side, Big Ben hits Mike Wallace on the first play of the game for a 60-yd TD and then hits Wallace again on the final play of the game for a 19-yd game-winning TD en route to a 503-yd passing performance. Meanwhile, Aaron Rogers throws for a "paltry" 383 yds (lol) as the two offenses combine for nearly 1,000 yds. Roethlisberger's final TD is necessitated by a questionable, controversial decision by Mike Tomlin who, after the Steelers take a 30-28 on a Jeff Reed FG w/3:58 remaining, calls a surprising onside kick. Green Bay recovers and turns the short field into an easy TD (adding a 2-point conversion) to take a 36-30 lead with 2:06 remaining. As it turns out, the Steelers need every one of those 126 seconds for their 86-yd game-winning drive, snatching victory away from Green Bay on Ben's desperation TD pass to Wallace as time expires. On the pass, Wallace is lined up by himself on the left side and beats the Packer DB back toward the pylon. Roethlisberger threadeds the needle with an absolutely perfect pass to the outside where only Wallace can get it. Wallace extends out of bounds to secure the sideline catch, dragging his toes in the end zone to seal Pittsburgh's nail-biting, record-setting victory. A special thanks to Keith "Crash" Froehlich for generously providing us with this game.
2009 Steelers 23 vs Ravens 20
After jumping out to a 20-10 halftime lead thanks to a masterful 94-yd 2-minute drill by Roethlisberger before the half, the Steelers barely sneak past the Ravens to stay alive for the playoffs. The Ravens are undone by an avalanche of penalties (with 2 INTs and 2 Baltimore TDs being called back) and a Derrick Mason drop of a sure 4th quarter TD pass in the end zone. Ben's 2-minute drill at the end of the half is a thing of beauty. On 3rd and 12 from the Steeler 4, Ben draws the Ravens offsides and uses the free play to hit Wallace on a 45-yd bomb down the sideline. Passes to Miller and Ward cover 27 more yds, then Ben floats a pass to Holmes, who makes a man miss and stiff-arms his way into the end zone for a 24-yd TD. A huge thanks to Barry Blyler for contributing this game!
2009 Steelers 30 at Dolphins 24
Big Ben throws 3 TDs as the Steelers start strong and hang on to win, keeping their slim playoff hopes briefly alive (although they are ultimately denied a playoff berth when Baltimore beats Oakland 3 hours later). Rashard Mendenhall runs for 94 yds and Willie Parker adds 91 yds as the Steelers roll to a 27-10 4th quarter lead. But after injuries sideline starting QB Chad Henne and rookie QB Pat White (who suffers a scary helemt-to-helmet hit), reserve Tyler Thigpen comes off the bench to lead TD drives on his first two series to narrow the score to 27-24. Former Steeler LB Joey Porter recovers a Roethlisberger fumble on a sack at the Steeler 13 to give Miami a chance to take the lead with 6 minutes left. But Ryan Clark makes a great diving INT at the 2, and a wounded Roethlisberger leads Pittsburgh on a 14-play, 83-yard drive capped by Jeff Reed's 3rd FG with 40 seconds left. Ike Taylor intercepts Thigpen on Miami's next play to seal the win.