In what has become a Pittsburgh tradition, B.E. Taylor rocks out some Christmas tunes before the game. The offense gets the nod for the intros, and the crowd gives Hines a great cheer for what might be his last game ever at Heinz Field.
I don't have any confirmation on this, but I think Hines is the last player on the roster to have played for the Steelers at both Three Rivers Stadium and Heinz Field. Aaron Smith would be the only other guy on the roster that might have played at Three Rivers as a Steeler.
The Steelers win the toss and defer. Smart move to put the defense out first.
The Rams come out determined to give the ball to Steven Jackson, who is obviously their best player on offense. He converts a 3rd and 12 on a draw play around the right side. Timmons bit inside on the fake and couldn't get out to seal the corner. The Rams get near midfield and seem to convert another 3rd down on a slant to Lloyd but Tomlin throws the challenge flag and actually wins one. Pretty obvious call that the ball hit the ground.
The teams trade punts. Hines picks up a catch on a shovel pass that used to be a staple of his game back in the early part of his career.
The Rams get across midfield but stall out. Steve Spagnolo calls for a fake punt on 4th and 10 but no one is open so the punter takes off running. The Steelers seem to be caught flat-footed then out of nowhere on a beeline shoots Antonio Brown who sticks the punter one yard short of the first down for a turnover.
You can actually buy this on a shirt on AB's website. Sick.
Hines gets another catch then Arians tries to go with a reverse pass by AB, but Brown gets pressured and winds up scrambling for some yards. Three plays later, Charlie tries to take a shot down the sideline for AB on a deep dig route, but AB slips and the defender is able to come up with the interception.
The Rams work it to 3rd and 1 then Josh McDaniels and his brilliant offensive play-calling strike. The Rams line up in a shotgun set but take a timeout because Harrison and Polamalu are ready to blow up their WR screen. Then McDaniels calls another pass but there are offsetting penalties. On the third 3rd and 1 opportunity, it's yet ANOTHER pass play, and Troy gets pressure to force a bad throw. Punt.
The next drive is all about Raising Menden-hellllll. Rashard guts the Rams defense on a run to the left then cuts it back when he hits the secondary and blows past a pack of Rams, rumbling all the way down the sideline for 52 yards down to the 10. Former Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year John Clay gets his first NFL carry and finds a crack off the right side and rumbles into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
After the teams trade punts again, the Rams get the ball near midfield with a little over 3 minutes to go. The Rams decide now is a good time to run the ball and keep running it after the 2 minute warning. Harrison sacks Clemens, forcing the Rams to settle for a 52-yard field goal attempt. Josh Brown misses.
It's right back to the grind for the Steelers, as Mendenhall carries us down the field once again. Wallace picks up a 3rd down in there to get us into field goal range and Suisham connects on a 49-yarder into the open end. Even the refs looked shocked that he made it.
Another 3-and-out trade before the Rams start moving the ball, primarily on the back of Steven Jackson. Scratch that, only on the back of Steven Jackson. He was literally their only offense. He picks up another 3rd and long on the same draw play to the right.
The shutout looks to be in danger as the Rams move inside the red zone, but Troy blows up Jackson on a 3rd down run and Brown shanks a 33-yard field goal.
Darth Harrison used the force to push it wide right.
After another trade of 3-and-outs, the Steelers win the field position battle thanks to a huge punt by Kapinos and a terrible punt by the Rams. With the ball near midfield, Homestead Charlie takes a shot deep for Wallace who makes a spinning grab and tumbles into the end zone for the score.
The Rams offense is terrible. Timmons and Harrison split a sack when Timmons comes unblocked and Harrison owns the tackle.
With the game in hand, Isaac Redman takes over and grinds his way to a first down. Then it's Hines time as he racks up two more catches to get him to 995. Charlie throws his best pass of the game on a fade to Heath who makes a leaping grab over two defenders to get down to the 2. Redman pounds it in to give all 3 running backs a touchdown.
The Rams go into run out the clock mode and wind it down.
Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Rashard Mendenhall
Defensive Game Ball: James Harrison
Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
A few games every year the stars align and the normal season ticket holders sell their tickets to friends, family, or random people on the internet. I don't have a problem with people getting the opportunity to attend a Steelers game for the first, second, or even fifth time. But there's a few things that one can come to expect from amateur fans. 1) They act like the stadium is their living room. Guess what? It's not. You can't just throw your half-eaten nacho tray on the ground and hope the cheese doesn't splash on the person in front of you. 2) They act like experts on everything Steelers. Okay, sometimes they are. But other times (and more than often) they try to share their limited knowledge with everyone around them. Case in point, the guy sitting behind me professed to having been to 1 game before (the New England game this year) and uttered such gems as:
- They're going to announce the defense before the game starts (The offense got the nod, obviously for Hines).
- I don't know why Brown isn't returning any punts this game. Against New England he was returning all of them and getting the crowd pumped up. Now he's just calling fair catches. (Field position difference in where the punts were.)
- At this point, all we can hope for is Renegade. This game sucks. (Steelers were winning 13-0 at this point.)
- We should be killing this team. Our offense sucks. (Fact: we were playing our backup quarterback and our 300th different O-line combination. Oh yeah, and we ran for 168 yards.)
- Hines is 5 catches away from 1,000. Interesting stat, the Steelers are 8-1 in games Hines has more than 2 catches. They are 2-3 in games he has 1 or 0 catches. Boom.
- First and last home game of the year were shutouts. That's pretty impressive. The last time we had 2 shutouts in a season was 2007. We haven't had more than 2 shutouts in a season since 1976 when we posted 5.
- Even though we didn't generate any turnovers, we did force 3 3-and-outs and stopped the fake punt on the big tackle by AB.
- Speaking of AB, he set the Steelers record for most all-purpose yards in a season, breaking the record set by Ernie Mills in 1995. Mills had 2024 APY, Brown has 2048 as of right now (664 KR, 325 PR, 1018 receiving, and 41 rushing).
- Mendenhall went over 100 for only the second time this year and we ran for 168 as a team. Great game on the ground considering we ran behind an offensive line that looked like a Picasso painting.
- Batch wasn't sacked at all? Wow.
- Trai Essex actually played really well at center.
- Never seen a team lay down and give up like the Rams did at the end of the first half. Is Steve Spagnolo trying to get fired?
- Steelers-Browns and Ravens-Bengals both at 4:15. Biggest day for the state of Ohio since Lewis and Clark passed through.