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Finally! Streak Ends on Last Play Heroics as Steelers Top Packers 37-36

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.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Thomas Crowley

    December 21, 2009 at 12:13 am

    The steelers won but another bad 4th quarter defense. 3 things guaranteed in life death,taxes and this year the steelers d sucking the 4th quarter.

  2. mark

    December 21, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Ryan Clark and Ty Carter are just awful this year! Again, Clark is more concerned with hitting then finding the ball. Carter takes bad angles,cant catch up to anyone and cant find the ball. The Packers are great on 3rd downs, but the Steeler secondary is just painful to watch on passing downs. It was an exciting game and an exciting win but it did not convince me that this team can make a stop in a big spot. That was apparent. When Tomlin went on-side, I almost choked on my soda! What was he thinking? Sure, if we get it, he is a genius. We didnt. To me that showed NO FAITH in the defense to stop a long drive that would not have given the Steelers time to answer.

  3. DrGeorge

    December 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    My colleagues here are right once again. We will take the win, but anyone encouraged by this fortuitous victory is delusional. Once again, the Steelers secondary was a sieve, the defense failed to hold a lead, William Gay was lost at CB, and the Arians offense proved unable to run effectively. Only this time, Tomlin topped Arians ineptness by disparaging his own defense in attempting an on-side kick, with a lead, at the most critical point of the game. Even if it had succeeded, it sent the wrong message.

    To give credit where it is due, the O-line did provide improved pass protection, and Ben and his receivers did play entertaining football, and the offense did bail out Tomlin and the defense. But it didn’t look like playoff football. Even the media wasn’t fooled this time. The Steelers are struggling mightily to achieve mediocrity, and our QB’s last second heroics is still not a strategy.

    By the way, Mark, did you note Arians pre-game comment (as reported on Fox) that he thought his offense was balanced. Oh, really, Bruce?
    Passing: 503 yards; rushing 65 yards. There are patients in strait jackets and pixilated drunks with better balance than that.

  4. Mike

    December 21, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    i thought the line of the game by Aikman was when he was talking about his pregame conversation with Mike Tomlin about the identity of the offense. Tomlin told Aikman that his goal was to be a balanced football team. DId he have a straight face when he said that? The new balance is 60-40 pass. There is no way that Tomlin actually believes that that is his goal. Arians must have pictures of Tomlin or BA uses the Jedi mind-trick on Tomlin. Tomlin sounds like a lying ass politician when he says these things. He nor Arians care about balance or even want it. Fine. If that is the direction they want to go, great. But if that is the case, they need to get Ben better offensive linemen and get better defensive bakcs to hold on in the 4th quarter. I think we have to accept the fact that his team is not going to be a smash mouth team again. Situationally they need to be but on the whole, they are going to continue to sling it 40-50 times a game regardless of score or game situation.

    Glad we got the win and maybe we get lucky and get in the tournament. As always, I am going to be positive about that part. We need so much help in the secondary. Gay and Carter are dreadful. Burnett looks like a rookie so I will not kill him yet. We need to draft athletic defensive backs and offensive lineman.

  5. mark

    December 21, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    DrGeorge, yes I did hear Arians say that. If he believes that this is balance then he must believe Santa is really coming down the chimney in a few days. WOW, that type of talk and delusion is worrying me to the point of real concern to where this team is heading. Sure, Tomlin sent the wrong message at a critical point(onside kick), but as the head man he can make those calls. I certainly didnt agree with it at all. But as the head man, how can he possibly sit there and let Arians call a game like this and then insult us all by saying that it was balanced? Ben bailed them out again but as you said: this is not a strategy. At least it better not be! I also wanted to say that as disappointed in Carter and Clark as I am, why aren’t the Steelers at least trying Mundy and anyone else in their places? It cant be any worse, can it? No one is calling for Lebeau’s head because people want to use the absence of Troy and Aaron Smith as the reason for this. I will go on record as saying that I cannot believe that the loss of 1 man in the secondary is the reason this defense is so bad in the secondary. How can that be? Carter, Clark and Gay must be old,talentless,slow and/or just plain dumb for this secondary to be playing so bad. Can’t Lebeau figure out a way to slow these passing offenses? Imagine the Saints or Colts against this secondary? Frightening. How about some pressures too? Harrison and Timmons were not around the QB at all yesterday. One last thing, I would rather see Farrior off the field on 3rd down than Timmons. As soon as there was a passing 3rd down, Rodgers went right over the middle. Now I dont expect a LB to cover a WR, but Timmons can cover better than Farrior and with Farrior still in there, the Packers went right at the clear-out.Does anyone else think Timmons and his youth and speed should be the 3rd down MLB?

  6. jay

    December 21, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I totally agree, Mark, except I’ll go one further and suggest that in lieu of a CB 1st rounder, we should target a Patrick Willis ILB and send Farrior packing or at least to situational (run stopping) football and nothing else. Sorry about my disparaging remarks yesterday about Arians; they were over the top but he gets me so mad that if I were Dr. Banner…well, you know the rest. I too was insulted by the insinuation of balance and love Dr. George’s remark about straight jackets and pixillated drunks. Ben holds onto the ball way too long. Fine, when we win, it’s gravy but it does cost games at times and could be alleviated with simply not putting him in that position as much. But I’m preaching to the choir with pining for running the ball more; now, if we could only get the coaching staff on board….

    • DrGeorge

      December 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Jay. Even when I’m wrong, I try to be a little entertaining. And you’re right about Ben. All five sacks by G. Bay were Ben’s own fault. He’s much more effective when he throws short and quickly. In his best games, the short passes set up the opposing safeties for his deep ones. But like Arians, he seems overly enamored with the Bomb.
      Big arm, big ego, big quandry.

  7. DrGeorge

    December 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Fine added comments, guys. The Green Bay game really emphasized our woes on defense. I’m no fan of Arians, but the offense did control the clock and avoided turnovers. The offense gave the defense no cause for complaint. But our D still struggled.

    The need to replace Farrior on passing downs seems obvious, but Timmons has been almost as iffy when given the chance. The lack of an effective pass rush puts a lot of pressure on our secondary. Teams do clearly target Gay all the time and Farrior on 3rd downs. This defense will require so many upgrades after the season (CB, ILB, DE, NG and possibly S) some talent will have to come through free agency. Unfortunately, finances will be a big issue for us next year, especially if the labor agreement is not renewed.

    I too hope for the best and keep flying my Steelers banner, but like Mark, I shudder to think of what Manning or Brees would do to our secondary if, by some miracle, we make the playoffs. But the Ravens are next. First things, first.

  8. mark

    December 22, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Agreed. First things first! DrGeorge is right. the Steeler’s game plan and execution gave the defense all they needed in terms of clock management and scoring, yet the defense still played horribly. I have also said that as much as I love Ben, He does have a BIG ego and that will be a cause for concern if and when the Steelers get rid of Arians. Lets just see how the next 2 games play out and if the Steelers can make the playoffs.

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  10. Maraneso

    December 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I’m a Packer fan and I remember this epic game. Here’s what drove me nuts about it…on that final drive, the Packers defended well enough to get a just enough incompletes to stop the clock and keep the drive alive. Not to take away from what Pittsburgh did on offense, but that final drive was infuriating. But that’s just a fan’s lament. Green Bay’s D was ranked 1 or 2 much of the 2009 season but when it played great QBs (Ben, Favre twice, Kurt Warner) it got torched. Still, great game (who wouldn’t love a score of 37-36??) and I love when these two franchises meet. Love the blog. Enjoy tomorrow’s tilt, it’s what football’s all about.

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