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Suisham kicks Steelers over Bills in OT

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Kicker Shaun Suisham booted field goals of 45, 46, 48 and 41 yards--including the winner in OT--to lead the Steelers over the Bills 19-16. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown and Pittsburgh was able to overcome a second consecutive game with more than 100 yards in penalties.

Steelers 19 – Bills 16

Shaun Suisham hit a 41-yard field goal in the thirteenth minute of overtime to end Buffalo’s bid for an upset win. Pittsburgh looked strong in the first half, but mistakes and penalties evened the playing field for the Bills.

GAME FLOW

Pittsburgh came out looking dominant, shoving the football down Buffalo’s throat with the running game on its opening drive. RB Rashard Mendenhall would cap that drive with a one-yard touchdown run. On the team’s second drive, the Steelers went to the air but came up short, allowing Shaun Suisham to convert his first field goal wearing black and gold from 45 yards away. Pittsburgh would engineer two more long drives in the first half, but came up with just one field goal (46 yards) thanks to a number of holding penalties called against the offensive line. Buffalo’s offense did little in the first half and possessed the ball for just over seven minutes through two quarters, allowing Pittsburgh to take a 13-0 lead into the locker room.

Buffalo looked like a different team in the second half as the offense moved the ball well on the team’s opening drive, but coughed up the ball thanks to a big hit by LB James Harrison. Troy Polamalu recovered the fumble. A roughing the passer call on Harrison extended the Bills’ next drive, though, and that’s when the dam broke. RB Fred Jackson caught a short dumpoff and shredded the Steelers defense for a 65-yard touchdown. A three-and-out by Pittsburgh’s offense preceded another Bills scoring drive as K Ryan Lindell hit a 29-yard field goal to bring Buffalo within three. On the very next play, RB Rashard Mendenhall put the ball on the ground for the second time in as many games. Buffalo recovered and went on to tie the game at 13-all with a 32-yard field goal. Big Ben was magical on the next drive, escaping a sure sack to extend the drive with an eighteen-yard scramble on third down. However, a drop by rookie WR Emmanuel Sanders on another third down forced Pittsburgh to settle for a field goal, this time from 48-yards. Buffalo drove into the red zone on the ensuing drive and looked the score, but the always-clutch Troy Polamalu came up with an interception. Unfortunately, the Steelers offense couldn’t burn off enough of the clock as they found themselves behind the eight ball thanks to more penalties. The Bills got the ball back with under a minute left and were able to convert a 49-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.

Early in overtime, it was all about special teams. Buffalo started the period with a 49-yard kickoff return, but went three-and-out. The ensuing punt by Brian Moorman pinned the Steelers at their own four-yard line. Pittsburgh only moved backwards, forcing punter Daniel Sepulveda to punt from the back of the end zone. Sepulveda bailed the team out with a booming 55-yard punt that the Bills fumbled (but recovered), giving Pittsburgh a much-needed breather in the field position game. The Bills looked to win it on the next drive though, with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick finding a wide open Steve Johnson in the endzone only to see his receiver drop the pass. With new life, the offense went back to the running game to churn out yards. Shaun Suisham came in to take on a 41-yard field goal attempt and nailed it, giving Pittsburgh the close win it needed with Baltimore looming next week.

OFFENSE

On the ground:
Rashard Mendenhall took the term “workhorse” to a new level as he carried the ball a whopping 36 times, the fifth-highest total by a Steelers running back since the merger. Mendenhall finished with 151 yards and a touchdown, but also lost a fumble. Isaac Redman had five carries for 25 yards and was a perfect two-for-two in third-and-short situations. Mewelde Moore added three carries for 12 yards and QB Ben Roethlisberger added an 18-yard first-down scramble.

Through the air: Big Ben was harassed all afternoon while the offensive line struggled, letting up five sacks on the day. Roethlisberger finished 20-of-33 for 246 yards and no TDs. Hines Ward led all receivers with seven catches for 107 yards, but only one of those catches came after the second half. Heath Miller and Mewelde Moore each notched four receptions for 79 yards combined. Mike Wallace was held in check with three catches for 33 yards. Rookie Emmanuel Sanders added two receptions for 27 yards.

DEFENSE

Pittsburgh’s pass rush only managed two sacks against the Bills, one apiece by LBs James Harrison and James Farrior. Harrison also forced a fumble that was recovered by Troy Polamalu, who came up with a second turnover when he grabbed the team’s only interception late in the game. LB Lawrence Timmons led the team with eight total tackles.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Shaun Suisham converted all four of his field goals, including the game winner, in his second game after replacing Jeff Reed. Daniel Sepulveda averaged just 42.8 yards on four punts, though he nailed a 55-yarder from his own endzone in OT. QB Big Ben also added a punt of 35 yards. The returners were held in check with Emmanuel Sanders averaging just 20.3 yards on four returns and Antwaan Randle El picking up 15 yards on his only punt return.

GAME BALL

After all the untimely missed field goals by Jeff Reed earlier in the season, I’m betting Pittsburgh fans liked what they saw from kicker Shaun Suisham. Suisham was four-for-four with a long of 48 yards and, of course, the game-winning field goal.

NEXT UP

Pittsburgh travels to Baltimore for a Sunday night showdown against the division-rival Ravens in a battle between the two best teams in the AFC North. The Ravens won the earlier matchup in week four. Kickoff will be at 8:20 on NBC.

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