Steelers Hold Off Rams 17-12; Improve to 5-4
PITTSBURGH,Pa-When the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the L.A. Rams 31-19 in Super Bowl 40, they had to overcome turnovers, injuries and themselves and it just summed up their 1979 season in this Manner: Nothing was going to be given to them. But they found a way to win.
In the 40th Anniversary since that Super Bowl Championship, the Steelers have also learned that nothing was going to be given to them, especially after starting 1-4 and losing their starting quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger), starting defensive end (Stephon Tuitt) for the season, their offensive guard (Ramon Foster) due to concussion, and 2 of their running backs (James Conner, Benny Snell) and their Fullback (Roosevelt Nix) to recent injuries.
But through it all, the Steelers not only found a way to beat the Rams 17-12 in front of 63,627 Heinz Field patrons (which included alumni from that 1979 Super Bowl Team) but they also found a way to rebound from that 1-4 start to improve to 5-4 on the season. They’ve won 4 straight and are still very much alive in the AFC Playoff hunt.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin found a way to motivate his team to not allow their struggles to keep them from being overcomers.
“That was fun. That was mean, but it was required.” Said Tomlin. “You have to give their defense credit too. We didn’t do too much on the offensive side. It was one of those hard, fought defensive battles and maybe a ply or two in special teams were going to be the difference.”
The Steelers also overcame a blunder on their second drive when the ball snapped over Mason Rudolph’s head and bounced into the hands of the Rams Dante Fowler Jr. who returned it 25 yards for the game’s first touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The Steelers didn’t panic and eventually tied the game on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Rudolph to James Washington. But as the offense wouldn’t score another touchdown, the Steelers defensive would score one of their own, thanks to their newly acquired Safety in Minkah Fitzpatrick.
On a play that began with the Rams Jared Goff getting hit by the Steelers Javon Hargrave, he fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by Fitzpatrick, who ran 43 yards for the score, giving the Steelers a 14-7 lead. Many (Including the Rams) thought that the fumble would be overturned as an incomplete pass, but the officials upheld the call and the Steelers had a lead that they would never relinquish the rest of the game.
“Minkah is a level-headed guy that his play is steeped in preparation.” Said Tomlin “I haven’t been around him very long, none of us have, but we all know that he has a love for football, and it is displayed in the urgency in which he works daily.”
The Steelers defense also did not give up an offensive touchdown, intercepted Goff 3 times, (Fitzpatrick, Joe Haden and RB Trey Edmunds on a fake punt attempt) sacked him 4 times (TJ
Watt had 2, Hargrave and Cameron Heyward 1 apiece) and had a ‘edginess’ that evoked memories of the 1979 Steel Curtain Defense.
The Steelers offense also overcame their second Safety in as many games when the Rams Aaron Donald sacked Rudolph in the endzone and overcame a strong drive by the Rams in which they settled for a Greg Zuerlein 30-yard field goal. The Steelers would add 3 more points of their own when Chris Boswell kicked a 30-yarder to extend their lead to 17-12 denying the Rams a chance to kick a game-winning field goal.
But it was the defense that saved the day for the Steelers as they had to shut down the Rams defense on their final 2 drives to close out the game. On the first drive, they forced a turnover on down, and on the second drive, Fitzpatrick intercepted Goff for his 5th of the season and his 4th in 3 games.
“But I just can’t say enough about the fight of the guys.” Said Tomlin “I felt good about the things that we needed to do against this group. Obviously, it started with minimizing Todd Gurley and for a while there, we had a tough time doing that. We settled that down and got back to where we wanted it.”
Rudolph passed for 242 yards and a TD, the running game was only able to manage 42 yards, and James Washington led the Steelers with 90 yards on 6 catches, which included his touchdown catch. For the Rams, Goff passed for 243 yards, Todd Gurley wan for 73 yards on 12 carries and Robert Woods led all receivers with 95 yards on 7 catches.
The Steelers must now prepare themselves to travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns Thursday night. “We work on a short week; we have to go to Cleveland for Thursday night. No rest for the weary.” Said Tomlin “It is good to prepare on a short week with that good, tough victory.”
Notes: Fitzpatrick is the first Steelers defensive player to score TD’s in back-to-back games since Sam Washington did so back in 1984.
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