It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Pittsburgh Steelers will take it.
The Steelers overcame a very sloppy performance and an undisciplined effort that saw them rack up over 100 yards in penalties, but rallied on their final drive to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 16-14 on a 34-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham as time expired.
It was an extremely sloppy effort from both teams through four quarters, but Michael Vick and the Eagles’ offense got going late and took a 14-13 lead when he connected with tight end Brent Celek with a two-yard touchdown pass to give Philadelphia their first lead of the game.
But Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a 14-play, 64-yard drive that ate up the final 6:33 on the clock. Roethlisberger, who is off to a fantastic start to the 2012 season, completed 4-of-5 passes for 50 yards on the final drive; including a pair of key third-down conversions as he led the Steelers into field goal position.
Big Ben had to work for this one as he was under a ton of pressure throughout the course of the game, but still finished the day completing 21-of-37 passes for 207 yards.
But while his receiving core didn’t do much to help Roethlisberger, dropping several passes on the day, Big Ben was certainly glad Rashard Mendenhall was back in the lineup.
Mendenhall, who hasn’t played since having ACL surgery back in January, gave the Steelers some semblance of a rushing attack for the first time this season, gaining 81 yards on 14 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to put the Steelers on the board.
Suisham made it 10-0 with a 20-yard field goal to send the Steelers into halftime with a double-digit lead.
But Vick, who was also under pressure all day, hit LeSean McCoy with a 15-yard touchdown to pull the Eagles within 10-7.
Suisham added a 34-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter before Vick led the Eagles down the field to grab the lead that was helped out by personal fouls by Ryan Clark and Ryan Mundy. The Eagles put together a grinding 17-play, 79-yard drive, converting a pair of risky fourth-downs, including one deep inside their own territory.
Philadelphia won its first three games by a total of four points, but this time around, 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-four at the Philadelphia 38.
Mendenhall, then bolted for eight yards on the next play to get the Steelers well within Suisham’s range.
It wasn’t a must win for the Steelers, but it was pretty close.
Coming in, much was made of the return of both Troy Polamalu and James Harrison and the Steelers defense did give their best effort of the season. They allowed only 246 yards of total offense and applied much more pressure than they have all season. But they still allowed a pair of long second-half scoring drives that nearly proved costly.
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 the 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year did not return. The same can be said for linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury.
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. McCoy rushed for 53 yards, and caught four passes for 27 yards and a touchdown for Philadelphia.
PIT- Rashard Mendenhall 13-yard run (Shaun Suisham kick) 5:01
PIT- Suisham 20-yard field goal 0:06
PHIL- LeSean McCoy 15-yard pass from Michael Vick (Alex Henry kick) 6:32
PIT- Suisham 34-yard field goal 14:51
PHI- Brent Celek two-yard pass from Vick (Henry kick) 6:33
PIT- Suisham 34-yard field goal 0:00