Pittsburgh Prevails: Roethlisberger, Mendenhall Let Defense Off Hook

Charlie CoxCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 4:  Running back Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field on October 4, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh, PA—Coming into this week four game, Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall had just 45 yards on seven carries this year. Mendenall was under enormous scrutiny after being the Steelers’ first round pick of 2008 and showing numerous signs of a bust.


Mendenhall missed the final 12 games of the 2008 season after breaking his scapula in week four against the Ravens when he made his first start of the season.


This year, however, Mendenhall’s first start went a little differently.


The Steelers, just coming off an 0-2 road trip were out to make a statement that this season wasn’t the repeated Super Bowl hangover of 2006.


After being outscored 24-0 in the fourth quarter this year and have suffered from second half offensive production, Roethlisberger and company made it a priority to break the trend.


The opening drive of the night was nearly perfect for the Steelers, driving 79 yards for the score. Roethlisberger was 3/3 on the six play drive throwing for 65 yards to three different receivers. Second year back Rashard Mendenhall opened eyes of the Steeler faithful with three rushes for 14 yards and the score.


The Steelers’ defense went on to perform like they have the entire season, holding opponents to virtually no offensive production the entire first half.


After a San Diego Chargers’ punt, Mendenhall continued where he left off running for 20 yards on the next four consecutive plays. Eight plays and sixty yards later, Roethlisberger hit third down back Mewelde Moore for a 19 yard touchdown to make the score 14-0.


After trading several punts, the Steelers would take over from their own 21. Mendenhall again was the star of the drive, as he contributed 37 of the 79 yards and the score.


The Chargers would open the second half to the Steelers, whom drove 81 yards in eight plays to make the score 28-0 after Ben Roethlisberger hit tight end Heath Miller for a six yard touchdown.


Phillip Rivers would then engineer a 14 play touchdown drive hitting tight end Antonio Gates for the final three yards, putting the Chargers on the board for the first time of the night.


The teams would trade punts into the fourth quarter when San Diego fullback Jacob Hester stripped Steelers’ return man Stefan Logan for a 41 yard touchdown.


Shades of the past three games started to show as the Chargers cut the Pittsburgh lead in half 28-14.


The Steelers’ offense was determined not to make the same mistakes of the past several games, and continued to put their foot down on the throat of San Diego.


Mendenhall continued to impress carrying four times on a six play drive for 36 yards. However, to end the drive, it was a six yard pass to Heath Miller from Mewelde Moore, rather than Roethlisberger.


Nightmares started come to life as Phillip Rivers went 4/4 on the next drive ended by a 30 yard pass to Antonio Gates


Nate Kaeding would kick the onside kick that would be recovered by San Diego after backup free safety Ryan Mundy muffed the kick.


On the ensuing drive, Phillip Rivers hit wide receiver Chris Chambers for a 13 yard score after driving 54 yards in 90 seconds to make the score 35-28.


The Steelers would take over on their own 20 yard line with just over four minutes left in the game. The Steelers would drive down field in 10 plays to the San Diego 28 yard line, where Jeff Reed redeemed his past two performances with a 48 yard field goal to seal the game at 38-28.


The Steelers offense played incredible; Roethlisberger went 26/33 for 333 yards and two touchdowns, looking like the Roethlisberger of old. Mendenhall definitely proved himself rushing 29 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns.


The Steelers jumped out to a 28-0 lead and didn’t surrender a point until the end of the third quarter. Even though the offense escaped to succumbing to the trials and tribulations of the previous weeks, the defense did not, surrendering 21 fourth quarter points.


Despite the lackluster play in the second half defensively, it was a win, and the Steelers will take it, evening out their record at 2-2.