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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
AFC North Game Balls

By Jamison Hensley

We're handing out game balls after Week 5 and here is who's getting them:

OFFENSE: Steelers offensive line. After a dreadful start to the season, it's time to give this group some credit. Pittsburgh's offensive line opened up holes to allow backup running backs to gouge a tough defense in the Titans and protected a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger like he was the president. Not sure if the return of left tackle Max Starks was the miracle cure, but it certainly did stabilize this unit for at least a week.

DEFENSE: Bengals linebackers. With the game tied 7-7 in the second quarter, Andy Dalton's interception gave the ball to the Jaguars at the Cincinnati 2-yard line. But middle linebacker Rey Maualuga broke up a pass in the end zone on first-and-goal and outside linebacker Thomas Howard dropped Maurice Jones-Drew for a seven-yard loss on second down. It's the type of defensive stand you would expect from the top-ranked defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda. Even though he had a punt blocked later in the game, Sepulveda provided the turning point in the win over the Titans. With Pittsburgh up 7-3, Sepulveda completed a 33-yard pass on a fake punt, which continued the Steelers' momentum and eventually led to their second touchdown. The play was essentially the same one where Sepulveda completed a 32-yard pass during his 2007 rookie season.