So many times this season the Steelers defense has cost them in the fourth quarter. Sunday at home in maybe the wildest game in Heinz Field history, Ben Roethlsiberger and the offense bailed them out. Led by a frantic final drive down 36-30, the Steelers pulled out their most memorable win of 2009, winning on the final play of the game to top the Green Back Packers 37-36 to end their five game losing streak.
The game-winner came when Roethlisberger threw a perfect pass to the end zone from the Green bay 18 that Mike Wallace pulled in, looking like Santonio Holmes last year in the Super Bowl. The feet were down, and the play was ruled a catch and a score, giving the Steelers the win after Jeff Reed nailed the extra point with no time remaining.
“The way the game ended was incredible, especially that last play,” center Justin Hartwig said. “It was obviously pretty reminiscent of the Super Bowl.”
It was an unreal day for Roethlisberger, who set Steelers records with 503 yards passing and three touchdowns on 29 of 46 passing. He is the first Steelers QB in team history to throw for 500 yards in a game. Down 36-30, the QB kept that final Steelers drive going by finding Holmes for 32 yards on a fourth-and-7 play and Heath Miller for 30 on third-and-15.
Things looked like a lost cause when he threw incomplete from the 18 with :04 seconds left. But then the next play he was able to buy time, and threw for Wallace, who made the catch in front of Packer Josh Bell in the end zone to win the game. “The guys were coming back to the huddle worn out, linemen, receivers, everybody,” Roethlisberger said. “We didn’t quit. Everybody believed we could do it.”
Despite the win and putting up 537 yards, the team was one play from giving it away again. They allowed the Packers back into the game with 22 fourth quarter points, including a 24-yard touchdown with 2:06 to go to James Jones after Mike Tomlin tried a foolish onside kick that failed with the Steelers up 30-28.
Packer QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns, picking on William Gay all day, and using Jermichael Finley who had 9 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. The Steelers built a 24-14 lead entering the fourth quarter before the Packers came storming back.
Reed was good on three field goals to give the Steelers the 30-28 lead with 3:58 left. Then though Tomlin, who must have felt this defense could not stop the Pack, tired an onside kick. It would have worked, but Ike Taylor touched the ball two yards short of it going 10 yards, and the Packers had the ball at the Steelers 39. Rodgers and the team then went to work, scoring on the pass to Jones and hitting a two-point conversion to go up 36-30 before Big Ben’s heroics won the game.
Overall, this was the type of effort that was expected by a team that finally played desperate. Of course the 22-point fourth quarter by the Pack was a concern, but what else is new. The team still has a very outside shot at the playoffs, and today was a step in that direction. Now they need to do it two more weeks and simply see what happens.