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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
AFC North Game Balls: Week 7

By Jamison Hensley

We're handing out game balls after Week 7 and this is who's getting them:

OFFENSE: Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers. With Pittsburgh's top two running backs sidelined with injuries, Dwyer stepped up with a career-best 122 yards rushing in his first career start. It was the best game for a Steelers back since Rashard Mendenhall ran for 146 yards on Oct. 16, 2011. Dwyer closed out the game with 87 yards rushing in the fourth quarter, which was more than what the Bengals had all game. His 32-yard run on third-and-7 sealed the win with less than one minute remaining.

DEFENSE: Ike Taylor, Steelers. This was a close call here. In most weeks, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs would have received the game ball after surprising everyone by playing less than six months removed from Achilles surgery. But it's hard to justify giving one to Suggs when he lost by 30 points and Taylor was a major factor in a win. Shadowing the NFL's leading receiver all over the field, Taylor shut down A.J. Green to one catch for 8 yards. Did anyone see this coming after Taylor struggled all season?

SPECIAL TEAMS: Shaun Suisham, Steelers. Other than the holding penalties on returns, the Steelers had a good list of candidates for game balls on special teams. Chris Rainey averaged 30.5 yards on four kickoffs. Drew Butler netted 44.5 yards on his punts. Even Ben Roethlisberger pinned the Bengals at the 11-yard line with pooch punt. But Suisham continued a strong season by hitting three field goals from beyond 40 yards (42, 47 and 42 yards) in a game decided by seven points. He is now 5-for-5 from 40 to 49 yards this season after going 6-for-11 from that same range last year.