Enough Already: Steelers Still Can't Put Teams Away In The Fourth Quarter

Chris StaafCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2009

DETROIT , MI - OCTOBER 11:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a first quarter pass while playing the Detroit Lions on October 11, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers had another fourth quarter scare today, this time in Detroit.

The Steelers hung on to beat the Lions 28-20 behind three touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger and another solid outing from Rashard Mendenhall.

The game should have been over in the third quarter. Instead it came down to the last minute of the game.

For the 2009 Steelers, not finishing the game strongly in the fourth quarter has been a recurring theme. It cost the Steelers wins in Chicago and Cincinnati. It made the games against San Diego and Detroit more exciting than I, or most in Steeler Nation, cared for.

Despite having another great showing, the play calling is still questionable. When Mendenhall showed last week he can be relied upon, why did Bruce Arians only call for 15 carries for the young back?

Several times Arians went with three straight passes, most of them wide receiver screens. The Steelers had trouble running the clock out in the second half and made the game way too interesting when it should have been over by the end of the third quarter.

Why not give the ball to Mendenhall or Mewelde Moore? The Lions showed they could not stop the run but Arians keeps being hardheaded and stubborn, going with the pass. Against better opposition, the Steelers would not be able to hang on like they did today.

On the plus side, Mike Wallace has looked sharp, catching another long pass, this time for his first touchdown of his career. It's especially refreshing since Wallace atoned for an earlier drop. Expect to see more deep throws to the speedy rookie out of Ole Miss.

Also, with another drop today (though not as critical as the ones in the past), I don't see Limas Sweed being on the active roster again unless injury occurs. I think Shaun McDonald will become the fourth receiver for good.

It was a welcome sight for the pass rush to finally wake up when Daunte Culpepper tried to lead the Lions back for a potential tying score. LaMarr Woodley finally got on the sack board and had his best game thus far this year as did James Harrison.

However, one number that sticks out is 11 for 18. That was the third down conversation rate for the Lions today. The Steelers had trouble getting off the field on third downs and it has been a recurring theme this season.

Hopefully Dick LeBeau will get this issue solved very soon. Given that All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu will likely return next week against the Cleveland Browns, some of those issues should be fixed.

A win is a win and I will take it.

This record is not what I expected for the Steelers thus far but it is better than being winless. Next week could be the first time this season that the entire projected defense will finally play a game together so there is hope for better football on the horizon.

Next game: home against the Cleveland Browns @ 1 pm Eastern.