Steelers edge Eagles on last-second field goal

Andrew Chiappazzi, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- At some point, the Philadelphia Eagles' high-wire act to start the season was going to come crashing down. It was only fitting that it came at the hands of another comeback artist.
Ben Roethlisberger engineered a game-winning drive that ended with Shaun Suisham's 34-yard field goal as time expired, and the Steelers edged the Eagles 16-14 Sunday at Heinz Field.
"I don't know if it's a sickness or what it is, but you can't get that feeling doing too many other things," Suisham said. "It certainly is a thrill."
The Eagles (3-2) had hoped that Michael Vick's 2-yard touchdown pass to Brent Celek with 6:38 left in the fourth quarter would be enough for their fourth comeback win of 2012. But Roethlisberger calmly directed a patient, clinical offense in the final minutes. The Steelers (2-2) relied on short passes, as well as several key runs by Rashard Mendenhall, to drive deep into Philadelphia territory.
Rather than play for the touchdown, Pittsburgh played it conservatively with less than a minute left, running up the middle to center the ball for Suisham's third field goal of the day.
"We knew we needed that. We got down into field-goal range, and I was still ready to go if we wanted to," Roethlisberger said. "We kind of were just dominating a little bit up front. We were getting 3 to 4 yards a pop. We mixed up the snap count on them so they couldn't anticipate it. I think that's probably the smart way to go, I guess."
The final field goal trumped the Eagles' excellent final drive, which was orchestrated by Vick.
Down 13-7 early in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia twice converted on fourth-and-1 to keep a 17-play, 79-yard drive alive. The first conversion came with the Eagles pinned on their own 31, an occasion that would see most coaches opting to punt. LeSean McCoy picked up the first down with a 2-yard run, and then five plays later, picked up 2 more yards to convert the other fourth-down opportunity.
"I wanted to win the game. You're in a tough place to win football games," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "Their home record here is unbelievable. We had the ball in our hands, and I wanted to take care of it and score."
Philadelphia inched inside the Steelers' 5-yard line, and Vick found Celek in the end zone on third down to put the Eagles ahead 14-13.
Vick and the Eagles had a markedly better performance in the second half, as the Steelers had built a 10-0 halftime lead. Vick struggled to hold onto the football in the first half, fumbling twice -- including once on the goal line -- and having another fumble called back once officials ruled he was down by contact.
"The turnovers early hurt us," Reid said. "You can't do that in a good place in a stadium on the road against a good football team. You just can't do it."
It was a stout first-half defensive performance from the Steelers, even though they didn't get as healthy as anticipated. Safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison both returned to the lineup, but only Harrison made it through the game unscathed. Polamalu lasted just a handful of series before aggravating his calf injury.
In between the sloppy play and injuries, Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense managed to piece together enough plays to take a 10-0 lead after two quarters. That included Mendenhall's 13-yard touchdown run, his first of the season after missing the first four weeks as he finished his recovery from an ACL tear sustained last season.
The Eagles cut the Steelers' lead to 10-7 with 6:32 left in the third quarter when Vick found McCoy for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Suisham's second field goal of the day made it 13-7, setting the stage for the dueling attempts at a game-winning drive.
"It shouldn't have even been that close. We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot when we have opportunities," Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "We're not playing complete games. We're just waiting to the end and trying to pull it out."
Roethlisberger finished 21 of 37 for 207 yards, while Mendenhall ran 14 times for 81 yards and a touchdown in his return. McCoy was held to 53 yards on 16 carries. Vick completed 20 of 30 passes for 175 yards and two TDs.
NOTES: McCoy's touchdown kept a streak alive for his alma mater. The University of Pittsburgh has had an alum score in 24 consecutive regular-season weeks, the fourth-longest streak in the NFL since 2000 and the longest active streak. Miami (Fla.) holds the record with former Hurricanes scoring in 149 straight games from 2002 to 2011. ... Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley left in the first half with a hamstring injury and did not return. ... Suisham is 8-for-8 on field goals this year and has converted 11 straight. He last missed in the 2011 regular season finale against Cleveland.

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